Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and Gottingen University have uncovered new waves in the Sun. As it has been revealed, these newly discovered solar waves were dubbed Rossby solar waves due to their similarity to the Rossby waves which can be found in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Over the past 4 decades or so, researchers have suspected the possibility of such waves to be present within the Sun, as such waves have to be present in all the space objects that rotate. Now, for the first time in history, these solar waves have been unmistakably detected and described.
Practically, in all the weather maps showing the northern hemisphere of the Earth, the Rossby waves are quite a salient characteristic. They occur as oscillating streams that divide the hot air from the south from the freezing air of the north.
Occasionally they reach the Equator and can also influence the climate in Australia. Basically, this kind of waves, also known as planetary waves, is created in any sphere that revolves around its own axis due to the Coriolis force.
Rossby waves of the Sun are indispensable features for our star similar to those in Earth’s atmosphere
The Rossby solar waves are of very low amplitude and span over several months, and are therefore very hard to identify, according to Laurent Gizon, the study’s coordinator.
During the study, which took several years, highly accurate observations of the Sun were necessary. Therefore, the researchers examined a 6-year of readings made by the NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) which is up and running since 2010.
“In general, we find large-scale vorticity waves in the Sun moving in the opposite direction of rotation. That these waves are only seen in the equatorial regions is completely unexpected,” states Professor Gizon.
The Rossby solar waves are massive in terms of both size and wavelength when compared with the solar radius, according to the astronomers. These waves, similar to the Rossby waves present in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, represent an indispensable feature of the Sun’s inner dynamics as they supply 50% of the Sun’s kinetic energy.