Sun’s bumpy magnetic fields might explain why its atmosphere is so hot

the sun

A time-lapse mannequin exhibiting the situation of the solar’s magnetic fields

NASA Goddard

A small sounding rocket that launched from White Sands Vary in New Mexico in 2019 is now serving to us perceive the totally different layers of the solar. Mapping the magnetic fields that these layers might enable scientists to foretell photo voltaic flares that may be harmful to satellites and different expertise on Earth.

What we consider because the floor of the solar is a layer known as the photosphere, which has been studied intimately for many years. The layer of the solar’s environment above the photosphere, the chromosphere, is clear to the bare eye, which has made it a lot more durable to review.


David McKenzie at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Heart in Alabama and his colleagues used the sounding rocket, known as the Chromospheric Layer Spectropolarimeter-2 (CLASP-2), to the magnetic fields within the chromosphere intimately for the primary time. That is essential as a result of the magnetic fields listed below are intimately tied to photo voltaic flares and the switch of warmth and power within the solar.

Proper now, photo voltaic flares are sometimes impossible to predict. “I can level at a picture of the solar and inform you which areas are a loaded gun and which aren’t, however I can not inform you when that set off goes to get pulled,” says McKenzie. The set off, no matter it’s, most likely lies within the magnetic fields within the chromosphere, he says.

The researchers discovered that the boundaries between the layers of the solar are much less easy than we thought, with the magnetic area power various extensively alongside the borders. McKenzie compares it to attempting to discern the peak of a area of grass: from far-off, the floor of the sphere may appear apparent, however the nearer you get, the extra clear the variations within the heights of particular person blades of grass grow to be.

Understanding these buildings might additionally assist us determine why the outermost a part of the solar’s environment, the corona, is a whole bunch of occasions hotter than the solar’s floor. “It has no proper being that sizzling, and but it’s,” says McKenzie. “We’re pretty positive that it’s due to the magnetic fields, as a result of we see probably the most warmth within the locations the place there are probably the most magnetic fields, however we don’t actually understand how that occurs.”

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe8406

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