Solar Physics Satellite "HINODE"(SOLAR-B)

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November 19, 2012 Updated

HINODE captured total solar eclipse over Australia

The Solar Physics Satellite “HINODE” captured the scene of the total solar eclipse in Australia. Its onboard X-ray telescope (XRT) took images of the sun gradually being covered by the moon at around 5:25 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2012 (Japan Standard Time), while the HINODE was flying over northern Australia. The moon appeared from the south, then moved in front of the sun toward the north western direction. The images show that the black moon was traveling with a bright solar corona behind it.
The largest eclipsed area observed by the HINODE was 99.3%, thus it was only one step shy of the total eclipse. The HINODE is flying very fast, at about 27,000 km per hour, thus its acquired data this time covers a portion of the partial sun eclipse for about 17 minutes. The HINODE also met the sun eclipse over the South American Continent four hours later, but its observation data there was also a partial eclipse.
The HINODE is also supporting total eclipse observations from Australia by measuring ultraviolet ray emissions from the corona using its onboard Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Imaging Spectrometer.

June 6, 2012 Updated

HINODE captured the transit of Venus across the Sun

On June 6 (Wed.), HINODE captured images of Venus passing in front of the Sun, which was an astronomical spectacle observed from all over Japan. The acquired images show that the rim of Venus was brightened like a ring due to sunlight that underwent a refraction bend through Venus' atmosphere, when Venus was about to come in front of the Sun from its north-eastern side.
(Image: NAOJ/JAXA)

May 21, 2012 Updated

HINODE shot partial solar eclipse

On May 21, 2012, the Solar Physics Satellite “HINODE” took photos of a partial solar eclipse. X-ray solar images and movies released today were shot when the HINODE flew over the East China Sea toward Indonesia at around 6:34 a.m. on May 21 (Mon., Japan Standard Time.) The X-ray telescope (XRT) aboard the HINODE captured a scene where the moon appeared from the south west side of the sun and traveled across in front of the sun to the north west, thus the black moon passed in front of the solar corona.

April 20, 2012 Updated

Hinode observations revealed polar field reversal only at North Pole of the Sun!

An international research team mainly consisting of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and RIKEN has observed the north and south polar regions of the Sun using JAXA’s Solar Physics Satellite "HINODE." As a result, they found that between 2008 and 2012, the reversal from minus to plus polarity of the magnetic field was taking place only in the north polar region, while the magnetic field did not change much in the south polar region.
The magnetic field of the solar polar region is known to reverse every 11 years. However, as the reversal occurred only on the north pole, and also with the development of a sunspot that was related to the polar magnetic field reversal, the condition is very similar to the “Mounder Minimum,” which brought a cold period to Earth in the mid 17th century. This phenomenon and its further movement need more attention.
Image: Large-scale magnetic landscape of the Sun predicted in the future

March 8, 2012 Updated

HINODE captured precursor of sunspot penumbra formation for first time

The solar physics satellite "HINODE" successfully carries out continuous observations of the formation process of a large sunspot from its birth.
To date, the evolution of a large sunspot with a penumbra from a small one without a penumbra has not been clearly elucidated. Thanks to the observation results of the HINODE, a structure (or a precursor) around a small sunspot that is equivalent to a penumbra was formed just after the birth of the small sunspot at the upper sky level of the chromosphere rather than the photospheric level. This was the first discovery of this in the world.

Image: Recent sunspot shot by the HINODE Solar Optical Telescope

August 31, 2011 Updated

HINODE: Observation results of magnetic field

JAXA reported the observation achievements by the solar physics satellite "HINODE" to the Space Activities Commission.
The number of peer-review papers on the HINODE reached 500 while the satellite is making various discoveries, thus the satellite is evaluated as a very successful solar observation satellite.
The HINODE captured the major emergence of a magnetic field and the generation and formation of a group of sunspots for the first time in the world. The satellite was also able to observe the sun's polar areas with the highest resolution, and that is very important for predicting solar activities. Consequently, its observation results have been highly appraised. They are also regarded as very meaningful to understand the relationship between the sun and the earth's environment.

Image: The emergence of the magnetic field from the inside of the sun.

March 17, 2011 Updated

HINODE observes huge flare

The Solar Physics Satellite "HINODE" observed a huge flare (explosion phenomenon) on the surface of the sun at 10:44 a.m. on February 15, 2011 (Japan Standard Time.) The HINODE is set to automatically convert its observation mode to "flare observation mode" whenever a solar flare occurs. The onboard "Solar Optical Telescope" and the "X-ray telescope"carried out the observation.
The flare this time is the first large-scale flare in a circle of newly started solar activity since 2009. The activity is expected to become more energetic in the future, thus large-scale flares are expected to occur more frequently.
(Image: Calcium H line (397 nanometer) flare, (C)NAOJ/JAXA)

January 7, 2011 Updated

Annular solar eclipse observed by HINODE

The Solar Physics Satellite “HINODE” observed an annular solar eclipse on January 4, 2011. The eclipse this time was a partial one from the Earth, but from the HINODE, which flies at an altitude of 680 km above the Earth, it was seen as an annular solar eclipse. (Images observed by HINODE's X-ray telescope (C) NAOJ/JAXA)

May 19, 2010 Updated

"Hinode" discovers the origin of white-light flare emission

A Japan-US international research team led by Dr. Kyoko Watanabe, a JAXA aerospace project research associate, has identified the origin of the white-light emission in solar flares, by quantitatively analyzing an X-class solar flare. This flare was successfully observed by two solar observing satellites: JAXA launched "Hinode" and NASA's RHESSI. The origin of the white light emission has not yet been clarified since its first discovery about 150 years ago. This finding is published in the May 20, 2010 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

Fig.: White-light images of the solar surface observed by the Hinode Solar Optical Telescope at 22:07 UT (before the flare: left) and 22:09 UT (during the flare: right) on 14 December 2006.

March 9, 2010 Updated

HINODE finds strong magnetic fields in Sun's polar region

An international research team including scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory carried out observations of the magnetic landscape of the Sun's polar region, which have been difficult to observe, using the onboard Solar Optical Telescope of the solar Physics Satellite "HINODE." As a result of the observations, the team found that extremely strong magnetic fields of over 1,000 Gauss, which is about the same level as a sunspot, scatter in the Sun's polar region. This achievement was attained because the HINODE successfully acquired clear images of the Sun's polar region for the first time in the world.

Image: Magnetic landscape of the Sun's polar region taken by the HINODE's Solar Optical Telescope In the image, the coordination is changed so that you can see the Sun's south pole from the above. Unlike sunspots, which appear in low latitude areas, small but strong magnetic fields exist sporadically.

November 5, 2009 Updated

HINODE clarifies the origin of low-speed solar winds

The origin of low-speed solar winds was found to be at the parting plane of the magnetic field that exists at the end of the active area of the winds. This finding was achieved by combining the observations of the Solar Physics Satellite "HINODE" and those of photosphere magnetic fields.
Such a parting plane of a magnetic field is found to be a boundary between the magnetic field of the active area and other magnetic fields, and magnetic reconnection is easily triggered in the environment of the parting plane. This observation result suggests the possibility that magnetic reconnection may drive low-speed solar winds.


July 22, 2009 Updated

Images of total solar eclipse taken by HINODE

A total solar eclipse was observed from Japan on July 22 for the first time in 46 years, and the Solar Physics Satellite "HINODE" observed the moon crossing in front of the sun.
HINODE's orbit at the time of the eclipse was over the rural areas of China to India, thus the HINODE flew at the edge of the eclipse zone. Therefore, it observed a maximum of 73% partial solar eclipse.
(Images: NAOJ/JAXA)

April 8, 2009 Updated

A new solar dynamo mechanism discovered by the Hinode satellite



The Sun has strong magnetic fields as represented by sunspots. The mechanism to create such strong magnetic fields is still a mystery, and is one of the most important problems in astronomy. Such magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun are known to drive dynamic activity such as solar flare, and eruptions which in turn can lead to geomagnetic disturbances that can have influence on the Earth and thereby on humans. Studies of the Sun, in particular, of its magnetic fields, are critically important in this respect too.
A research team consisting of Japanese, US, and European scientists have discovered a new type of magnetic field on the Sun with, the solar optical telescope (SOT) aboard the Hinode satellite. These magnetic fields called Transient Horizontal Magnetic Fields (hereafter referred to as THMFs), that have unique properties that are completely different from known properties of sunspots.

Figure : Left: full disk image of the Sun. Right: Close up view of the surface of the Sun seen in visible light. The yellow areas show the transient horizontal magnetic fields. (C)NAOJ/JAXA

October 7, 2008 Updated

HINODE observed the dynamism of a polar crown prominence

HINODE's onboard Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) acquired high-resolution moving images of an atmospheric structure called a "polar crown prominence," which is observed frequently near the poles of the Sun. The SOT successfully captured the dynamic movement of the polar crown prominence with high resolution for the first time in the world.
The moving image shows one example of the polar crown prominence floating over the edge of the Sun (shown at the lower edge in the attached image,) and a curved wall of 10,000o plasma about 90,000 km long and 30,000 km tall is seen in the high-temperature corona of one million degrees. A corona magnetic field is believed to play the role of steadily maintaining the low-temperature plasma above the sky for a long time. This observation by the HINODE captured many phenomena that have never been observed before such as a dark structure rising from the bottom part of the prominence, gases falling from the top part of the prominence, and whirl generation. This observation is expected to be very useful for elucidating the physical process of causing such dynamic phenomena.
The initial result of this observation was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters magazine by a group of SOT developing researchers. For more details, please check Science@NASA.

Image: One example of a polar crown prominence floating over the edge of the Sun (lower edge of the image)
(C)JAXA/NAOJ/NASA/ESA

April 8, 2008 Updated

Wind velocity at the outset of low-speed solar wind identified by HINODE

HINODE's onboard X-ray telescope (XRT) observed that high-temperature gas emanated out constantly from the edge of the activity region adjacent to a hole in the sky above the corona. We further examine the phenomenon using the HINODE's onboard Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS,) and the velocity of the high-temperature gas emanation was about 100 km/second. This figure is consistent with the projected value based on the XRT observation.
This research result was published in the April 1 issue of "The Astrophysical Journal" an American astronomical magazine.

December 7, 2007 Updated

Hinode Featured in Science

Hinode (SOLAR-B) has brought us a new perspective of solar physics since its launch on September 22, 2006. Sience magazine, one of the leading journals of scientific research, features Hinode discoveries. An impressive picture obtained with Hinode appears in the front page of the journal. This press release highlights two of nine articles published in the special issue. [image: (C) NAOJ/JAXA/NASA/STFC/ESA]

May 31, 2007 Updated

Observation data from HINODE (SOLAR-B) released to the public!

The Solar Observation Satellite HINODE (SOLAR-B) has been regularly carrying out observations using all its observation instruments. Previously, we have released only a limited portion of images from the HINODE on our web site, but on May 27, 2007, we disclosed all the observation data to the world. To commemorate this achievement, we have also released videos of long term x-ray observations and the latest images from the X-Ray Telescope (XRT) on our web site.


November 9, 2006 Updated

Mercury Transit across the Sun as Observed with "Hinode"

The Mercury transit event across the Sun that took place in the morning of 9 November 2006 JST was successfully observed in great detail with the three telescope instruments aboard HINODE satellite. Panels below show images from HINODE for the episode around the contact of Marcury to the solar disk (i.e., around first and second contacts).

Each telescope is at this moment still under the stage of continuous adjustment and optimization after the launch to achieve its best-possible performance on orbit. Hence it should be noted the images presented here are not necessarily taken with the highest optical performance the relevant telescope would exhibit. Further improvement of image quality would be expected as the adjustment progresses.

All the telescope instruments aboard HINODE have so far been successfully performing their initial engineering observations. Mercury transit data acquired this time will be helpful for the adjustment of telescope optics as well as calibrating alignment information of the instruments.


September 25, 2006 Updated

M-V-7 successfully launched Nickname is "Hinode"

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the M-V Launch Vehicle No. 7 (M-V-7) at 6:36 a.m. on September 23, 2006 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC).

JAXA started receiving signals from the SOLAR-B at 7:21 a.m. (JST) at the Santiago Station, and from those signals we verified that the SOLAR-B had successfully separated from the launch vehicle and its solar array paddles (PDL) had been normally deployed.

The in-orbit SOLAR-B was given a nickname of "Hinode" (meaning "sunrise.")