A team of researchers has managed to explain why the Sun’s upper atmospheric layers are so hot. Magnetic waves seem to heat up those layers and direct solar winds in outward direction.
The new study, which appeared in the journal Nature Physics, revealed that magnetic waves play a huge role in exciting our star’s atmosphere, a phenomenon not fully understood until now.
The phenomenon was first theorized in 1942 by physicist Hannes Alfvén, and the magnetic waves were named after the scientist. Past studies linked the waves to the formation of cometary clouds and other phenomena.
Researchers also suspected that Alfvén waves may be behind the extremely high temperatures on the surface of the Sun, but until recently that theory could not be proven.
Physicist David Jess and a team of researchers at Queen’s University Belfast explained that the magnetic waves come from the Sun’s core and travel to upper layers where they release “enormous amounts of energy in the form of heat.”
Magnetic Waves Turning Movement into Heat
Over the last few years, it wasn’t clear if Alfvén waves exist as there was no sound evidence to back the theory that they could turn the energy released from movement into heat.
Jess’ team found evidence that the magnetic waves in a sunspot produced energy. The team believes that the findings could revolutionize the technology behind some medical devices and nuclear reactors.
Researchers analyzed the sunspots with help from the New Mexico-based Dunn Solar Telescope and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is owned by NASA. The team explained that the magnetic fields observed in sunspots are similar to those emitted by MRI machines, but on a much larger scale.
Researchers found that the magnetic waves in the Sun turned their energy into shock waves across the plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere, a mechanism which generates extreme heat.
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