The origin of the magnetic field covering the Sun has been discovered

The origin of the magnetic field covering the sun has been discovered
Image showing how the magnetic flux is transmitted. The red contours indicate intranet elements contributing to the overall magnetic web, while the green contours show flow cancellations. The blue contours represent concentrations of magnetic field. The edge of the supergranule cells is defined in pink.

The magnetic field that covers the sun and determines its behavior –the eleven year cycles no less than such conspicuous phenomena as solar spots and solar storms– also has another side to it: a magnetic web that covers the entire surface of the sun at rest and whose net magnetic flow is greater than that of the active areas. A study led by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has revealed where the flow that feeds this web comes from.

The outline of the solar magnetic web coincides with the boundaries of the so-called supergranules, structures linked to the existence of hot gas rising to the surface (similar to the bubbles made by boiling water) some twenty thousand kilometers in diameter.

"We have discovered that inside these supergranules, in what is known as intranetwork, small magnetic elements appear which travel toward the outer boundaries and interact with the web", says Milan Gosic, IAA researcher in charge of the study.

The monitoring of these heretofore little known elements was a considerable advance in and of itself, but the calculation of their contribution to the solar magnetic web has come as a major surprise: these small elements can generate and transfer, in the span of barely fourteen hours, the entire magnetic flow detected on the web. "Bearing in mind that only about 40% of this flow ends up on the web, we find that the intranetwork can replenish the flow of the web in twenty four hours", says Luis Bellot (IAA-CSIC), a member of the research team.

Paradigm change

The dominant model until now postulated that the magnetic fields of the web resulted from the decay of active zones such as spots, on the one hand, and from structures known as ephemeral regions, which provide a lot of flow but are not very common, on the other.

In that sense, the study by Gosic et al. has triggered a paradigm change because it has shown that ephemeral regions are too scarce to have significant impact. "In the course of forty hours we detected only two ephemeral regions, so their contribution to the web cannot be more than 10% of the total . By contrast, the small elements in the intranetwork are continuous and clearly dominant. ", says Gosic (IAA-CSIC).

The finding was made in the course of extraordinarily long temporal sequences of observation – about forty hours – using the high resolution Japanese HINODE satellite – a record for this type of instruments - which made it possible to monitor the evolution of supergranular cells throughout their life.

"It is believed that the magnetic elements of the intranetwork and their interactions with the might be responsible for the warming up of the outer layers of the sun's atmosphere, one of the most pressing unsolved problems of Solar Physics", says Luis Bellot (IAA-CSIC). The study of the magnetic elements using the Hinode data will permit a more efficient scientific use of the data of the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter mission, for which IAA-CSIC is building the IMAX instrument.


Explore further

Spanish instrument reveals how magnetic structures in the Sun are born and evolve

More information: M. Gosic et al. "The solar internetwork. I. Contribution to the network magnetic flux". The Astrophysical Journal doi:10.1088/0004-637X/797/1/49
Provided by Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía
Citation: The origin of the magnetic field covering the Sun has been discovered (2015, February 19) retrieved 19 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-02-magnetic-field-sun.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
149 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 19, 2015
A defining moment in science.

Feb 19, 2015
I'm not even sure why someone would right an article like this. There is only one thing that generates a magnetic field: an electric current. These findings are just more of the daily data being received that validate the electric model of the universe.
Ever since Donald Scott gave an engineering/cosmology lecture at NASA (Goddard 2009) on the electric sky the accumulating evidence has been overwhelming. Even Halton Arp's work showing that red shift is an intrinsic, age-dependent variable is being confirmed by Chandra. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (NASA 2014) will probably end the theory of nuclear fusion within stars.
The Big Bang, neutron stars, black holes and dark matter are concepts that will soon be discarded as the observable, confirmable and rational electric models are being regularly validated by current data.
Hail to Birkeland, Maxwell, Langmuir (Nobel), Alfvens (Nobel), Bostick, Perrat, Arp and Scott. The day of plasma physics and the "Z pinch" has arrived.

Feb 19, 2015
And POOF there goes the whole EU pseudo-scientific garbage theory of an electric sun! Not that it had any traction to begin with, except among the acolytes and easily duped, but still! I'm thrilled!

EWH
Feb 19, 2015
While magnetic fields are indeed only due to moving charges, and z-pinch seems like a good explanation of how stars get started, the EU idea that the sun was powered by an external electric current has never made any sense. Currents do not make energy, they only transmit it, and EU has never had a explanation of where the energy could come from if not from fusion in stars. The fact that the sun is hottest on the outside was claimed to be evidence that the sun is externally powered, but magnetic heating from below makes far more sense.

Feb 20, 2015
It was no surprise that it simply is convection in the plasma "gas" that drives the solar magnetic field, but it is good to have the confirmation and the details. A small step for solar science, showing it is a fruitful field.

Agreed with the sane comments, it becomes even harder for anti-scientists to impute their pattern search and also convince others unfamiliar with thermodynamics and EM theory. Of course, trolls haz to to troll, so little change over time. Remember how long flat-earthers persisted?

Feb 20, 2015
While magnetic fields are indeed only due to moving charges ..


While moving charges are indeed only due to magnetic fields ...

Chicken or the egg?

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