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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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Parker Solar Probe Passes by Venus On Its Way to Sun: NASA

Twenty-four orbits — dipping into the sun's upper atmosphere, or corona — are planned over the next seven years.

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Parker Solar Probe, NASA, mercury
This illustration from NASA shows the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun. VOA

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is swinging by Venus on its unprecedented journey to the sun.

Launched in August, the spacecraft gets a gravity assist Wednesday as it passes within 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) of Venus. The flyby is the first of seven that will draw Parker ever closer to the sun.

By the end of October, Parker will shatter the current record for close solar encounters, set by a NASA spacecraft in 1976 from 27 million miles (43 million kilometers) out.

Parker-Solar-2, NASA
The Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. VOA

Parker will get within 15 million miles (25 million kilometers) of the sun’s surface in November.

Also Read: SpaceX Names Yusaku Maezawa As Their Private Passenger

Twenty-four such orbits — dipping into the sun’s upper atmosphere, or corona — are planned over the next seven years. The gap will eventually shrink to 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers). (VOA)

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