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Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), May 25. Magnetic waves that have been discovered in sunspots have such a high energy flux that they could keep the Sun’s atmosphere at millions of degrees, according to research carried out by an international team of scientists, the Institute of Astrophysics of the Atlantic Archipelago has reported. Canary Islands Spanish (IAC).
The IAC indicates in a statement that this finding adds a missing piece to the “puzzle of why the outer layers of the Sun are hotter than its surface despite being further away from the heat source.”
A work in which researchers from the Spanish University of La Laguna also participated, and which has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The IAC explains that the Sun shines thanks to the nuclear fusion of hydrogen in its core, where the temperature reaches 16,000,000 °C, and on the visible surface or photosphere of the Sun, the temperature drops to around 5,000 °C.
It is intuitive that hydrogen gas further from its core is colder, and yet the solar corona, which is further from the core than the photosphere, reaches temperatures in the millions of degrees.
No theory has been able to explain this paradox, known as the coronal heating problem, which has challenged the scientific community for a century.
Using the Big Bear Solar Observatory’s 1.6-meter Goode Solar Telescope, an international science team detected oscillations in dark elements of a large sunspot, the coldest structure on the Sun.
These obscurations are plasma fibrils aligned with a strong, high-intensity magnetic field in the sunspot.
“These filaments oscillate transversely, which means that it is a transverse magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) wave and that they are capable of dragging the magnetic field lines to move laterally,” explains Yuan Ding, a researcher at the Harbin Institute of Technology (China). who led the investigation.
“This implies that the oscillations of the fibrils could provide a very high energy flow,” he adds.
The scientific team developed a mathematical model of the fast transverse waves in sunspots and calculated that the energy flow is between 1,000 and 10,000 times greater than the energy emitted in the plasma of the active region, which would be enough to maintain the Sun’s atmosphere at millions of degrees of temperature.
“In the study, the plasma parameters were estimated by applying an inversion code developed at the IAC to the observations,” points out Juan C. Trelles, co-author of the article and researcher at the IAC and ULL.
In addition to this scientific result, the study is accompanied by extremely high spatial resolution data from the darkest area of the sunspot or umbra, as well as the dynamics of high-energy waves in its plasma fibrils.
The research thus provides unprecedented insight into the strongly magnetized plasma region of the Sun and plays a leading role in resolving the coronal heating problem.
The Solar Physics community plans to carry out further research using the latest generation solar telescopes that will be available in the coming years, such as the European Solar Telescope, which is scheduled to be installed at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the Spanish island of The Palm. EFE