In a remarkable milestone for India’s space exploration efforts, the Aditya-L1 mission, the nation’s maiden solar observation mission, set its course for the Sun-Earth L1 point (L1) on September 2. On Tuesday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) unveiled the success of the High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) payload, which recorded the impulsive phase of solar flares during its inaugural observation period on October 29.
What is Aditya-L1 mission HEL1OS
HEL1OS, an innovative hard X-ray spectrometer, is part of the Aditya-L1 mission designed to study the Sun’s activities and notably, it is capable of capturing the early impulsive phases of solar events. This instrument operates within the wide X-ray energy band of 10- 150 keV, presenting a revolutionary approach to understanding the intricate dynamics of solar flares.
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Despite extensive research on solar flares over the years, capturing and analysing the initial impulsive emission, particularly in hard X-rays, has remained a formidable challenge. HEL1OS seeks to surmount these difficulties by employing a set of detectors tailored to different energy ranges, offering high spectral and time resolution measurements.
HEL1OS’ Scientific Endeavours
The primary scientific objectives of HEL1OS include studying the explosive energy release, electron acceleration, and transport mechanisms during solar flares through fast timing measurements and high-resolution spectra. Additionally, the instrument aims to investigate quasi-periodic pulsations (QPPs) of hard X-rays during solar flares to gain insights into particle acceleration mechanisms.
HEL1OS features two distinct types of detectors: Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) operating in the 10 – 40 keV range and Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) operating in the 20 – 150 keV range. These detectors, with 256 pixels each, cater to specific energy ranges. The CdTe detector excels at lower energies and is used for spectroscopic studies between 10 keV and 40 keV, while the CZT detector is employed for the 20 – 150 keV range. This dual-detector system is essential for covering the overlap between thermal and non-thermal components of solar flares.
The HEL1OS instrument was developed by the Space Astronomy Group of the U. R. Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO, Bengaluru, in collaboration with various entities within the centre.
Since its commissioning on October 27, 2023, HEL1OS has been diligently monitoring the Sun for hard X-ray activities. The data recorded by HEL1OS during the observation period on October 29 revealed the impulsive phase of a solar flare. The instrument’s capabilities enable researchers to distinguish the impulsive phase from data provided by NOAA’s GOES, as it offers shorter durations and earlier peaking times. Further analysis of HEL1OS data promises to shed light on electron acceleration mechanisms during these solar events, potentially revealing previously undiscovered insights.
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