A group of astrophysicists has identified previously undetected energy in the Sun’s corona, which accounts for the fact that the solar atmosphere is much warmer when compared to the star’s surface.
The Sun’s corona, hidden from the human eye unless it emerges for a short time as a halo of blazing plasma during a solar eclipse, continues to be a dilemma even to the astronomers who thoroughly investigate it. Situated at 2,000 kilometers above the Sun’s surface, the coronal mass is over a hundred times hotter by comparison with the underlying strata which are located in the vicinity of the core of the Sun.
A science team of astrophysicists and physicists, directed by Gregory Fleishman from the Institute of Technology of New Jersey, uncovered a phenomenon that may start to unravel the so-called “one of the greatest challenges to solar modeling”, namely, identifying the physical systems that heat the atmosphere of the Sun to above 3 million degrees Celsius.
Scientists revealed how this undetected energy forms in the Sun’s corona
The researchers’ discoveries, that describe the previously undetected energy in the corona, were just released in the Astrophysical Journal.
Through observations conducted with the NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the researchers have identified large amounts of heavy metal ions present in magnetic flux tubes (concentrations of magnetic fields) that conduct an electric current in the coronal mass.
“We knew that something really intriguing was happening at the interface between the photosphere, the surface of the Sun, and the corona, given the remarkable disparities in chemical composition between the two layers,” admitted Fleishman.
A variety of hypotheses on this undetected energy, all of which are not yet convincing, illustrate the blistering heat of the Sun’s corona as magnetic energy streams re-engage in the superior atmosphere of the Sun and expel blasting energy and energy ripples which are dumped into the coronal mass, turning into thermal energy, among other forms of energy.