Giant pipe organ in the solar atmosphere

Apr 19, 2007

Astronomers have found that the atmosphere of the Sun plays a kind of heavenly music. The magnetic field in the outer regions (the corona) of our nearest star forms loops that carry waves and behave rather like a musical instrument.

In a talk on Thursday 19 April at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, Dr Youra Taroyan and Professor Robert von Fay-Siebenburgen of the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC), University of Sheffield will explain the origin of these magnetic sound waves. They will present a series of animations and sound files that demonstrate how these dramatic events appear and fade away rapidly.

In recent years scientists have worked hard to better explain and predict the dynamic behaviour of the Sun. For example, missions like STEREO and Hinode watch as material is ejected towards the Earth, events which are controlled by the solar magnetic field.

In their research, led by Professor von Fay-Siebenburgen, SP2RC scientists combined observations with new theoretical models to study the magnetic sound waves that are set up along loops in the corona. “These loops can be up to 100 million kilometres long and guide waves and oscillations in a similar way to a pipe organ.” - says Dr Taroyan

The acoustic waves can be extremely powerful and reach amplitudes of tens of kilometres per second. Professor von Fay-Siebenburgen adds, “we found that the waves are often generated at the base of the magnetic pipes by enormous explosions known as micro-flares. These release energy equivalent to millions of hydrogen bombs. After each micro-flare, sound booms are rapidly excited inside the magnetic pipes before decaying in less than an hour and dissipating in the very hot solar corona.”

Source: Royal Astronomical Society

Explore further: 'Perfect storm' quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dutch launch 'intelligent bicycle' that warns of danger

48 minutes ago

The Netherlands on Monday launched its first-ever "intelligent bicycle", fitted with an array of electronic devices to help bring down the high accident rate among elderly cyclists in the bicycle-mad country.

Recommended for you

The hot blue stars of Messier 47

13 hours ago

Messier 47 is located approximately 1600 light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Puppis (the poop deck of the mythological ship Argo). It was first noticed some time before 1654 by Italian astronomer ...

Why is space black?

Dec 16, 2014

Imagine you're in space. Just the floating part, not the peeing into a vacuum hose or eating that funky "ice cream" from foil bags part. If you looked at the Sun, it would be bright and your retinas would ...

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.