China’s solar probe Kuafu-1 detects over 100 white-light flares

An illustration of the Kuafu-1. /CFP

An illustration of the Kuafu-1. /CFP

China’s first comprehensive solar probe, the Kuafu-1, has detected over 100 white-light flares since its launch in October 2022, the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Monday.

White-light flares refers to flares whose usual line emission is accompanied by enhanced continuum radiation in the visible range. Such flares are usually high-energy, and their appearance can have an impact on space weather, causing ground communication failures or interruptions, and interfering with spacecraft operation.

As of December 2023, more than 120 white-light flares have been observed by the White-light Solar Telescope on Kuafu-1, which provides samples for exploring the physical nature of these flares.

“The observations of Kuafu-1 suggest that white-light flares are not as rare as previously realized,” said Gan Weiqun, chief scientist of Kuafu-1 from PMO, adding that the team will continue to combine multi-band observations from other satellites to study white-light flares comprehensively and provide a theoretical basis for space weather forecasting for China.

China launched the Kuafu-1 probe in October 2022. It has become the world’s first near-Earth satellite telescope to simultaneously monitor solar flares, coronal mass ejections and the sun’s magnetic field. Since the launch, about 600 terabytes of raw solar observations have been recorded for further research.