Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Spacecraft Provides New Information About Sun’s Atmosphere

17.10.2014

NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun’s constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

The new information will help researchers better understand how our nearest star transfers energy through its atmosphere and track the dynamic solar activity that can impact technological infrastructure in space and on Earth. Details of the findings appear in the current edition of Science.


NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory provided the outer image of a coronal mass ejection on May 9, 2014. The IRIS spacecraft. The IRIS mission views the interface region that lies between the sun’s photosphere and corona in unprecedented detail for researchers to study.

Image Credit: NASA, Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory

 "These findings reveal a region of the sun more complicated than previously thought," said Jeff Newmark, interim director for the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Combining IRIS data with observations from other Heliophysics missions is enabling breakthroughs in our understanding of the sun and its interactions with the solar system."

The first result identified heat pockets of 200,000 degrees Fahrenheit, lower in the solar atmosphere than ever observed by previous spacecraft. Scientists refer to the pockets as solar heat bombs because of the amount of energy they release in such a short time. Identifying such sources of unexpected heat can offer deeper understanding of the heating mechanisms throughout the solar atmosphere.

For its second finding, IRIS observed numerous, small, low lying loops of solar material in the interface region for the first time. The unprecedented resolution provided by IRIS will enable scientists to better understand how the solar atmosphere is energized.

A surprise to researchers was the third finding of IRIS observations showing structures resembling mini-tornadoes occurring in solar active regions for the first time. These tornadoes move at speeds as fast as 12 miles per second and are scattered throughout the chromosphere, or the layer of the sun in the interface region just above the surface.  These tornados provide a mechanism for transferring energy to power the million-degree temperatures in the corona.

Another finding uncovers evidence of high-speed jets at the root of the solar wind.  The jets are fountains of plasma that shoot out of coronal holes, areas of less dense material in the solar atmosphere and are typically thought to be a source of the solar wind.

The final result highlights the effects of nanoflares throughout the corona. Large solar flares are initiated by a mechanism called magnetic reconnection, whereby magnetic field lines cross and explosively realign. These often send particles out into space at nearly the speed of light. Nanoflares are smaller versions that have long been thought to drive coronal heating. IRIS observations show high energy particles generated by individual nanoflare events impacting the chromosphere for the first time.      

"This research really delivers on the promise of IRIS, which has been looking at a region of the sun with a level of detail that has never been done before," said De Pontieu, IRIS science lead at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, California. "The results focus on a lot of things that have been puzzling for a long time and they also offer some complete surprises."

IRIS is a Small Explorer mission managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, provides mission operations and ground data systems. The Norwegian Space Centre is providing regular downlinks of science data. Lockheed Martin designed the IRIS observatory and manages the mission for NASA. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, built the telescope. Montana State University in Bozeman designed the spectrograph. Other contributors for this mission include the University of Oslo and Stanford University in Stanford, California.

For more information about IRIS, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/iris

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Susan Hendrix | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

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: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>