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70-year-old solar mystery solved

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Magnificent CME Erupts on the Sun - August 31Tokyo: Solar physicists have captured the first direct observational signatures of a solar phenomenon that has eluded the world of science for over 70 years. This new information can explain how the solar corona reaches temperatures of 1,000,000 degrees Celsius — the so called “coronal heating problem”.

Resonant absorption is a process where two different types of magnetically driven waves resonate, strengthening one of them. Researchers looked at a type of magnetic waves which can propagate through a prominence – a filamentary structure of cool, dense gas floating in the corona.

The team found that magnetically driven resonance helps heat the Sun’s atmosphere. The solar corona, the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, is composed of extremely high temperature gas, known as plasma, with temperatures reaching millions of degrees Celsius. As the outer layer of the Sun, the part farthest from the core where the nuclear reactions powering the sun occur, it would logically be expected to be the coolest part of the Sun, but it is 200 times hotter than the photosphere in the layer beneath.

This contradiction, dubbed as “the coronal heating problem,” has puzzled astrophysicists ever since the temperature of the corona was first measured over 70 years ago. For this, a research team from Japan, the US and Europe led by Drs Joten Okamoto and Patrick Antolin combined high-resolution observations from JAXA’s Hinode mission and NASA’s IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph) mission. They were able to detect and identify the observational signatures of resonant absorption.

“The work shows how the power of multiple satellites can be combined to investigate long-standing astrophysical problems and will serve as an example for other research looking for similar heating in other solar observations,” the team said.

(IANS)

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NASA Probe to ‘Touch’ the Sun Will Carry 1.1 mn Names

A memory card containing the names was installed on the spacecraft on May 18, the US space agency said

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

When NASA’s s Parker Solar Probe, humanity’s first mission to “touch” a star, launches on July 31, it will carry more than scientific instruments on this historic journey — it will also hold more than 1.1 million names submitted by the public to go to the Sun, NASA has said.

Back in March, NASA invited people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard its historic Parker Solar Probe. Submissions were accepted till April 27.

NASA this week revealed that a total of 1,137,202 names were submitted and confirmed over the seven-and-a-half-week period.

A memory card containing the names was installed on the spacecraft on May 18, the US space agency said.

The card was mounted on a plaque bearing a dedication to and a quote from the mission’s namesake, heliophysicist Eugene Parker, who first theorised the existence of the solar wind.

NASA
Representational Image, VOA

Throughout its seven-year mission, the spacecraft will swoop through the Sun’s atmosphere 24 times, getting closer to our star than any spacecraft has gone before.

“Parker Solar Probe is going to revolutionise our understanding of the Sun, the only star we can study up close,” said Nicola Fox, project scientist for Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland.

“It’s fitting that as the mission undertakes one of the most extreme journeys of exploration ever tackled by a human-made object, the spacecraft will also carry along the names of so many people who are cheering it on its way,” she added.

This memory card also carries photos of Parker and a copy of his groundbreaking 1958 scientific paper.

Also Read: SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites

Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars — including our Sun — give off material.

He called this cascade of energy and particles the solar wind, a constant outflow of material from the Sun that we now know shapes everything from the habitability of worlds to our solar system’s interaction with the rest of the galaxy.

Parker Solar Probe will explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere and make critical observations to answer decades-old questions about the physics of stars.

The resulting data may also improve forecasts of major eruptions on the Sun and subsequent space weather events that impact life on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space, NASA said. (IANS)

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