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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 Sets Record For Getting Closest To The Sun: NASA

Launched in August, Parker is on track to set another record late Monday night.

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Parker solar probe, NASA
This image made available by NASA shows an artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. VOA

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever gotten.

Parker on Monday surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles (43 million kilometers) set by Helios-2 back in 1976. And it will keep getting closer to the sun until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of the solar surface.

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

Parker will make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles (6 million kilometers).

Also Read: New Gamma-Ray Collection Named After Hulk, Godzilla: NASA

Launched in August, Parker is on track to set another record late Monday night. It will surpass Helios-2’s speed record of 153,454 miles per hour (247,000 kilometers per hour), relative to the sun. (VOA)