Science

Waves From Sunspots Show Sun Is Always Changing

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 24, 2016 05:11 AM EDT
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For many people, the Sun is a bright object that provides light during daytime. Few people think much about it except during summer. However for many astronomers the Sun is a dynamic star that is constantly evolving. One example of that are sunspots, which astronomers now see to be as dynamic as the Sun itself.

Solar waves on sunspots travel through the Sun's various layers, according to Science Daily. Through its study astronomers try to understand how the Sun works. These waves appear on the Sun's surface, and has been suspected to originate from the lower layers of the Sun. For the first time astronomers have been able to follow how the wave travels through Sun's layers.

The study has used data taken from the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, the NASA interface Region Imaging Spectrograph and the Big Bear Solar Observatory. The data have all been taken together to produce 16 wavelengths of light. These show the Sun's upper and lower atmosphere.

With this a new way of studying the Sun has been achieved, as NASA's site reports. This new technique is important, as it can now show in a much clearer way how the different layers of the Sun affect one another. It might also help in giving an answer to an issue astronomers have been speculating.

The Sun's outer surface is much hotter than its lower layer. This has surprised astronomers, as many expect the outer layer to be much cooler compared to its lower layer. The Sun though is showing the opposite, and astronomers want to find out more what's causing the anomaly and how it happens.

"When a wave travels upwards, a number of things can happen. Some may reflect back downwards, or contribute to heating," explained Junwei Zhao, solar scientist at Stanford University and lead author of the study. He said that the study has given a new viewpoint on how the waves contribute to the Sun. With the new technique astronomers have a new way to study the Sun as well.

Ruizchu Chen, graduate student from Stanford and also an author of the study, said that by studying the waves astronomers can know more about sunspots.

The Sun is also affected by the still unseen Ninth Planet, as a report says.

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