Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA's STEREO Maps Much Larger Solar Atmosphere Than Previously Observed

26.06.2014

Surrounding the sun is a vast atmosphere of solar particles, through which magnetic fields swarm, solar flares erupt, and gigantic columns of material rise, fall and jostle each other around.

Now, using NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, scientists have found that this atmosphere, called the corona, is even larger than thought, extending out some 5 million miles above the sun's surface -- the equivalent of 12 solar radii. This information has implications for NASA's upcoming Solar Probe Plus mission, due to launch in 2018 and go closer to the sun than any man-made technology ever has before.


Scientists used these observations of the sun's atmosphere (the bright light of the sun itself is blocked by the black circle at the middle) from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory on Aug. 5, 2007, to define the outer limits of the solar atmosphere, the corona.

Image Credit: NASA/STEREO

These STEREO observations provide the first direct measurements of the inner boundary of the heliosphere -- the giant bubble sparsely filled with solar particles that surrounds the sun and all the planets. Combined with measurements from Voyager 1 of the outer boundary of the heliosphere, we have now defined the extent of this entire local bubble.

"We've tracked sound-like waves through the outer corona and used these to map the atmosphere," said Craig DeForest of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "We can't hear the sounds directly through the vacuum of space, but with careful analysis we can see them rippling through the corona."

The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal on May 12, 2014. The researchers studied waves known as magnetosonic waves, and they are a hybrid of sound waves and magnetic waves called Alfven waves. Unlike sound waves on Earth, which oscillate several hundred times per second, these waves oscillate about once every four hours -- and are about 10 times the length of Earth.

Tracking magnetosonic waves showed DeForest and his team that the material throughout this extended space remained connected to the solar material much further in. That is to say that even out to 5 million miles from the sun, giant solar storms or coronal mass ejections can create ripple effects felt through the corona.

Beyond that boundary, however, solar material streams away in a steady flow called the solar wind -- out there, the material has separated from the star and its movement can't affect the corona.

Realizing that the corona extends much further than previously thought has important consequences for NASA's Solar Probe Plus because the mission will travel to within 4 million miles of the sun. Scientists knew the mission would be gathering information closer to the sun than ever before, but couldn't be sure it would travel through the corona proper.

"This research provides confidence that Solar Probe Plus, as designed, will be exploring the inner solar magnetic system," said Marco Velli, a Solar Probe Plus scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The mission will directly measure the density, velocity and magnetic field of the solar material there, allowing us to understand how motion and heat in the corona and solar wind are generated."

With direct access to the sun's atmosphere, Solar Probe Plus will provide unprecedented information on how the solar corona is heated and revolutionize our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Susan Hendrix | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasas-stereo-maps-much-larger-solar-atmosphere-than-previously-observed/

Further reports about: Astrophysical Earth Maps Observatory Tracking Voyager atmosphere movement observations waves

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Interstellar seeds could create oases of life
28.08.2015 | Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

nachricht Draw out of the predicted interatomic force
28.08.2015 | Hiroshima University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: OU astrophysicist and collaborators find supermassive black holes in quasar nearest Earth

A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...

Im Focus: What would a tsunami in the Mediterranean look like?

A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...

Im Focus: Self-healing landscape: landslides after earthquake

In mountainous regions earthquakes often cause strong landslides, which can be exacerbated by heavy rain. However, after an initial increase, the frequency of these mass wasting events, often enormous and dangerous, declines, in fact independently of meteorological events and aftershocks.

These new findings are presented by a German-Franco-Japanese team of geoscientists in the current issue of the journal Geology, under the lead of the GFZ...

Im Focus: FIC Proteins Send Bacteria Into Hibernation

Bacteria do not cease to amaze us with their survival strategies. A research team from the University of Basel's Biozentrum has now discovered how bacteria enter a sleep mode using a so-called FIC toxin. In the current issue of “Cell Reports”, the scientists describe the mechanism of action and also explain why their discovery provides new insights into the evolution of pathogens.

For many poisons there are antidotes which neutralize their toxic effect. Toxin-antitoxin systems in bacteria work in a similar manner: As long as a cell...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IPA develops prototype of intelligent care cart

It comes when called, bringing care utensils with it and recording how they are used: Fraunhofer IPA is developing an intelligent care cart that provides care staff with physical and informational support in their day-to-day work. The scientists at Fraunhofer IPA have now completed a first prototype. In doing so, they are continuing in their efforts to improve working conditions in the care sector and are developing solutions designed to address the challenges of demographic change.

Technical assistance systems can improve the difficult working conditions in residential nursing homes and hospitals by helping the staff in their work and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking conference in Heidelberg for outstanding mathematicians and computer scientists

20.08.2015 | Event News

Scientists meet in Münster for the world’s largest Chitin und Chitosan Conference

20.08.2015 | Event News

Large agribusiness management strategies

19.08.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Interstellar seeds could create oases of life

28.08.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

An ounce of prevention: Research advances on 'scourge' of transplant wards

28.08.2015 | Health and Medicine

Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May be Mediated by Gut Microbes

28.08.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>