Sun's corona is both hot and kinky

Mar 06, 2008
The Sun

Astrophysicists are having a heated debate over the wave structure of the Sun’s Corona - a debate which may one day influence solar weather forecasting and the theory behind fusion reactors.

The Sun’s core is about 6000 degrees C, but its outer layer, the Corona, which is filled with a strong magnetic field, is 200 to 300 times hotter.

Last year American scientists thought they had cracked this paradox with research showing how high-energy Alfvén wave structures could super-heat the Corona.

The astrophysicists said they could detect Alfvén waves within the Corona – waves that have a corkscrew motion along the magnetic field at supersonic speed.

They published their results in prestigious journal Science.

However, scientists at the University of Warwick say these are well known and earlier discovered magneto-acoustic kink waves. These, they say, are a better fit for the complex magnetic fields of the Sun’s outer layer.

They’ve published their results today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Warwick astrophysicist Dr Tom Van Doorsselaere explains; “We interpret the data differently. They think they’re looking at an Alfvén wave, but in fact they are looking at Kink wave.

“Kink waves are a bending of the magnetic field, much alike the bending of the string, when playing the guitar.

“Moreover, because the scientists from Boulder Colorado identified the wrong kind of wave all of their subsequent calculations are out. And, sadly, it means the question of why the Corona is hot remains unanswered.”

Source: University of Warwick

Explore further: Compact galaxy groups reveal details of their close encounters

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Solar explosions inside a computer

Sep 24, 2014

Strong solar flares can bring down communications and power grids on Earth. By demonstrating how these gigantic eruptions are caused, ETH physicists are laying the foundations for future predictions.

Scientists find elusive waves in sun's corona

Aug 30, 2007

Scientists for the first time have observed elusive oscillations in the Sun's corona, known as Alfvén waves, that transport energy outward from the surface of the Sun. The discovery is expected to give researchers ...

Puffing Sun gives birth to reluctant eruption

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —A suite of Sun-gazing spacecraft, SOHO, STEREO and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast 'puffs' force the slow ejection of ...

Solar moss shakes at 16,000 km an hour

Jun 23, 2014

(Phys.org) —Using a state-of-the-art ultraviolet camera, two astronomers from Northumbria University have obtained exceptionally sharp images of 'solar Moss', bright features on the Sun that may hold the ...

Recommended for you

Kepler proves it can still find planets

Dec 18, 2014

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of the Kepler spacecraft's death was greatly exaggerated. Despite a malfunction that ended its primary mission in May 2013, Kepler is still alive and working. The evidence ...

User comments : 0

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.