Moving to the rhythm of the Sun

August 17, 2007
Ulysses spacecraft
This artist's impression shows the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft. Launched in 1990, the European-built spacecraft visits both polar regions once every 6.2 years as it circles the Sun in an orbit that is almost perpendicular to the ecliptic, the plane in which Earth and the planets move. Credits: ESA

Scientists from the Ulysses mission have proven that sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. They have found that Earth’s magnetic field, atmosphere and terrestrial systems, all take part in this cosmic sing-along.

David Thomson and Louis Lanzerotti are team members of the HISCALE experiment on board Ulysses, a joint mission between ESA and NASA. Together with colleagues Frank Vernon, Marc Lessard and Lindsay Smith, they present evidence that proves that Earth moves to the rhythm of the Sun. They show that distinct, isolated tones, predicted to be generated by pressure and gravity waves in the Sun, manage to reach Earth and are detectable in our environment.

Thomson and colleagues have discovered these tones in seismic data and have found them in Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, and even in voltages induced on ocean cables, along with a wide variety of terrestrial systems. Although these tones are all around us, it would not be possible for us to hear them, even if we listened very closely.

According to Thomson, data from Ulysses provided an important clue as to how these sounds generated deep inside the Sun reach the Earth.

His team also present new evidence for these tones in various terrestrial systems here on Earth. They also provide an explanation for the mechanism by which these tones, originating from deep inside the solar interior manage to make their way to Earth, and pervade our environment.

Source: ESA

Explore further: A window on a world where cosmic rays are just background noise

Related Stories

NASA scientists listen to data

September 5, 2014

Robert Alexander spends parts of his day listening to a soft white noise, similar to water falling on the outside of a house during a rainstorm. Every once in a while, he hears an anomalous sound and marks the corresponding ...

The sounds of interstellar space

November 4, 2013

Scifi movies are sometimes criticized when explosions in the void make noise. As the old saying goes, "in space, no one can hear you scream." Without air there is no sound.

Recommended for you

Inside Rosetta's comet

February 4, 2016

There are no large caverns inside Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA's Rosetta mission has made measurements that clearly demonstrate this, solving a long-standing mystery.

Small asteroid to pass close to Earth March 5

February 3, 2016

A small asteroid that two years ago flew past Earth at a comfortable distance of about 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers) will safely fly by our planet again in a few weeks, though this time it may be much closer.

Pluto's mysterious, floating hills

February 4, 2016

The nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto appear to carry an intriguing cargo: numerous, isolated hills that may be fragments of water ice from Pluto's surrounding uplands. These hills individually measure one to several miles or ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.