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 Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

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: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>