The Sun is interwoven by a complex network of magnetic field lines that are responsible for a large variety of fascinating features that can be seen in the solar atmosphere. Large, dark regions, which look like holes on the Sun´s surface, mark out areas where the magnetic field breaks through from the Sun´s deep, boiling interior and rises into the very hot solar atmosphere, which is over a million degrees. The largest of these dark regions are often called sunspots and have been studied since their discovery from as early as 364 BC.
Led by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, Head of the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at the University of Sheffield, the team studied a magnetic region of the Sun much smaller than a sunspot, however its size was still many times greater than the size of the UK.
Their research, which was published this week in Astrophysical Journal, has shown that the magnetic hole they observed, which is also known as a pore, is able to channel energy generated deep inside the Sun, along the magnetic field to the Sun´s upper atmosphere. The magnetic field emerging through the pore is over 1,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth.
The energy being transported is in the form of a very special form of waves, known as `sausage waves´ which the scientists were able to observe using a UK-built solar imager known as ROSA (Rapid Oscillations of the Solar Atmosphere), which was designed by Queen´s University Belfast and is in operation at the Dunn Solar Telescope, Sacramento Peak, USA. This is the first direct observation of `sausage waves´ at the solar surface. The magnetic hole is seen to increase and decrease in size periodically which is a characteristic feature of the `sausage wave.´
The team of experts, including Dr Richard Morton from the University of Sheffield, as well as Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis and Dr David Jess from Queen´s University Belfast, hope these giant magnetic holes will play an important role in unveiling the longstanding secrets behind solar coronal heating.
This is because the solar surface has a temperature of a few thousand degrees but the solar corona - the outermost, mysterious, and least understood layer of the Sun's atmosphere - is heated to temperatures often a thousand times hotter than the surface. Why the temperature of the Sun´s atmosphere increases as we move further away from the centre of energy production, which lies under the surface, is a great mystery of astrophysics. The findings, which demonstrate the transfer of energy on a massive scale, offer a new explanation for this puzzle.
The team now hope to use further similar solar images from ROSA to understand the fine substructure of these massive magnetic holes by reconstructing the images to view what is inside the holes.
Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, said: "This is a fascinating new discovery in line with a number of discoveries made in recent years by the team. It is the first time that `sausage waves´ have been detected in the Sun with such detail. Analysing these waves may bring us closer to understanding the physical mechanisms in the atmosphere of a star.
"I am very proud that such talented young researchers like Richard and Dave have shown such a serious commitment in bringing us closer to unveiling the secrets of the Sun. We´re also very pleased that Professor Keenan and the Queen´s University Belfast solar team were able to build such a wonderful instrument that allows us to make unprecedented observations with relatively low costs."
The news comes as part of the University of Sheffield´s unique venture entitled Project Sunshine, led by the Faculty of Science. SP2RC plays a key role in Project Sunshine, which aims to unite scientists across the traditional boundaries in both the pure and applied sciences to harness the power of the Sun and tackle the biggest challenge facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the world´s population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change.
Notes for Editors: To view the research paper entitled `Observations of Sausage Modes in Magnetic Pores´ visit the link below.
Project Sunshine, led by the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield aims to unite scientists across the traditional boundaries in both the pure and applied sciences to harness the power of the Sun and tackle the biggest challenge facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the world´s population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change. It is hoped that Project Sunshine will change the way scientists think and work and become the inspiration for a new generation of scientists focused on solving the world´s problems. The first international Project Sunshine conference, Shine, will take place from 13-14 September 2011 at Sheffield City Hall. For more information, visit the link below.
For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2225339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shemina Davis | EurekAlert!
Unconventional superconductor may be used to create quantum computers of the future
19.02.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology
Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
16.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Information Technology
19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences