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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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Exposure to Air Pollution May Trigger Alzheimer’s in Aged Women, Reveals Research

"Our hope is that by better understanding the underlying brain changes caused by air pollution, researchers will be able to develop interventions to help people with or at risk for cognitive decline," Petkus added

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Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

Women in their 70s and 80s who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution experienced greater declines in memory and more Alzheimer’s-like brain atrophy than their counterparts who breathed cleaner air, new research has revealed.

“This is the first study to really show, in a statistical model, that air pollution was associated with changes in people’s brains and that those changes were then connected with declines in-memory performance,” said study researcher Andrew Petkus, the Assistant Professor University of South California in the US.

Previous research has suggested that fine particle pollution exposure increases the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

What scientists haven’t known is whether PM2.5 alters brain structure and accelerates memory decline.

For the study, published in the journal Brain, researchers used data from 998 women, aged 73 to 87, who had up to two brain scans five years apart as part of the landmark Women’s Health Initiative launched in 1993 by the US National Institutes of Health and enrolled more than 160,000 women to address questions about heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Those brain scans were scored on the basis of their similarity to Alzheimer’s disease patterns by a machine learning tool that had been “trained” via brain scans of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers also gathered information about where the 998 women lived, as well as environmental data from those locations to estimate their exposure to fine particle pollution.

When all that information was combined, researchers could see the association between higher pollution exposure, brain changes and memory problems — even after adjusting to taking into account differences in income, education, race, geographic region, cigarette smoking, and other factors.

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“This study provides another piece of the Alzheimer’s disease puzzle by identifying some of the brain changes linking air pollution and memory decline. Each research study gets us one step closer to solving the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic,” Petkus said.

“Our hope is that by better understanding the underlying brain changes caused by air pollution, researchers will be able to develop interventions to help people with or at risk for cognitive decline,” Petkus added. (IANS)