Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA’s Chandra Neon Discovery Solves Solar Paradox

28.07.2005


NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory survey of nearby sun-like stars suggests there is nearly three times more neon in the sun and local universe than previously believed. If true, this would solve a critical problem with understanding how the sun works.



"We use the sun to test how well we understand stars and, to some extent, the rest of the universe," said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "But in order to understand the sun, we need to know exactly what it is made of," he added.

It is not well known how much neon the sun contains. This is critical information for creating theoretical models of the sun. Neon atoms, along with carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, play an important role in how quickly energy flows from nuclear reactions in the sun’s core to its edge, where it then radiates into space.


The rate of this energy flow determines the location and size of a crucial stellar region called the convection zone. The zone extends from near the sun’s surface inward approximately 125,000 miles. The zone is where the gas undergoes a rolling, convective motion much like the unstable air in a thunderstorm.

"This turbulent gas has an extremely important job, because nearly all of the energy emitted at the surface of the sun is transported there by convection," Drake said.

The accepted amount of neon in the sun has led to a paradox. The predicted location and size of the solar convection zone disagree with those deduced from solar oscillations. Solar oscillations is a technique astronomers previously relied on to probe the sun’s interior. Several scientists have noted the problem could be fixed if the abundance of neon is in fact about three times larger than currently accepted.

Attempts to measure the precise amount of neon in the sun have been frustrated by a quirk of nature; neon atoms give off no signatures in visible light. However, in a gas heated to millions of degrees, neon shines brightly in X-rays. Stars like the sun are covered in this super-heated gas that is betrayed by the white corona around them during solar eclipses. However, observations of the sun’s corona are very difficult to analyze.

To probe the neon content, Drake and his colleague Paola Testa of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., observed 21 sun-like stars within a distance of 400 light years from Earth. These local stars and the sun should contain about the same amount of neon when compared to oxygen.

However, these close stellar kin were found to contain on average almost three times more neon than is believed for the sun. "Either the sun is a freak in its stellar neighborhood, or it contains a lot more neon than we think," Testa said.

These Chandra results reassured astronomers the detailed physical theory behind the solar model is secure. Scientists use the model of the sun as a basis for understanding the structure and evolution of other stars, as well as many other areas of astrophysics.

"If the higher neon abundance measured by Drake and Testa is right, then it is a simultaneous triumph for Chandra and for the theory of how stars shine," said John Bahcall of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. Bahcall is an expert in the field who was not involved in the Chandra study. Drake is lead author of the study published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/05_releases/press_072705.html
http://chandra.harvard.edu
http://chandra.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Home computers discover a record-breaking pulsar-neutron star system
08.12.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

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,...

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

Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts

08.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>