Why Is The Sun’s Corona Hotter Than Its Surface? Scientists Have The Answer

Posted: May 12 2018, 5:36pm CDT | by , Updated: May 13 2018, 12:26am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Why Does the Sun’s Corona is Hotter Than its Surface? Scientists have the Answer
Credit: New Jersey Institute of Technology

Observations suggest that the corona may contain even more thermal energy than anticipated

The surface of the sun is blistering hot at around 6000°C, but its corona or outermost layer is even hotter. The temperature of sun’s corona can be as high as 1 million degrees, which is more than a hundred times hotter than the lower layers much closer to the sun’s core. Now, a team of physicists has found possible evidence of a source that could be responsible for heating the sun's corona. It is the excessive thermal energy that has not been detected before.

Logically when you move away from a hot source the environment gets cooler, but here the temperature continues to rise and exceeds a million degrees Celsius in the outermost layer. It shows that some unexpected mechanism is clearly at work in the sun’s atmosphere.

“We knew that something really intriguing happens at the interface between the photosphere - the Sun's surface - and the corona, given the noticeable disparities in the chemical composition between the two layers and the sharp rise in plasma temperatures at this junction.” Lead researcher Gregory Fleishman from New Jersey Institute of Technology said.

To find out, researchers analyzed the data from NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It revealed regions in corona with elevated levels of heavy metal ions inside the concentrations of magnetic fields. With images captured in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) band, researchers found that corona contains disproportionally large concentrations of multiply charged metals compared to single-electron ions of hydrogen than exist in the photosphere or the deepest layer of the Sun. The ion traps located at the base of coronal loops can harbor iron ions which cannot be detected in the EUV range. Only metal ions produce visible emissions.

"These observations suggest that the corona may contain even more thermal energy that is directly observed in the EUV range and that we have not yet accounted for," said Fleishman. "This energy is visible in other wavelengths, however, and we hope to combine our data with scientists who view it through microwaves and X-rays. Before we can address how energy is generated in the corona, we must first map and quantify its thermal structure.”

Previously, researchers lacked the suitable instruments for measuring what occurs on the sun's surface and its atmosphere. It is only through recent advances in imaging capabilities that they can now better quantify the corona's thermal structure and determine the ion distribution in the solar atmosphere.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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