New pictures reveal that our Sun’s surface is covered with miniature solar flares. Dubbed “campfires,” they are 1 million to 1 billion times smaller than flares observed from Earth, The New York Times reports. The discovery could help scientists better understand the patterns of solar wind, charged particles flowing outward from the Sun. These photos are the first released from the Solar Orbiter, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and NASA that launched in February. During its approach, the spacecraft came within 77 million kilometers of the Sun, a little more than halfway between Earth and the star. Over the next 2 years, the spacecraft will orbit even closer, coming less than 42 million kilometers from the Sun’s surface.
*Correction, 20 July, 11 a.m.: This story has been updated to make it clearer that the observed flares were much smaller than those seen from Earth.