Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Fountains Of Fire Illuminate Solar Mystery


Click On Image For More Images....

RELEASE: 00-146

FOUNTAINS OF FIRE ILLUMINATE SOLAR MYSTERY

Giant fountains of fast-moving, multimillion-degree gas in the outermost atmosphere of the Sun have revealed an important clue to a long-standing mystery -- the location of the heating mechanism that makes the corona 300 times hotter than the Sun's visible surface.

Scientists discovered an important clue while observing immense coils of hot, electrified gas, known as coronal loops. These fiery, arching fountains now appear in unprecedented detail with NASA's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft.

Scientists are interested in the corona, which appears as a halo of light seen by the unaided eye during a total solar eclipse, because eruptive events in this region can disrupt high-technology systems on Earth. Astronomers also hope to use the solar corona studies to better understand other stars.

"The mysterious energy source that makes the Sun's atmosphere so incredibly hot has been an enigma for more than 70 years, and before we discover what it is, we needed to learn where it is," said Dr. Markus Aschwanden of the Lockheed-Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL), in Palo Alto, CA.

Aschwanden is lead author of a paper describing this research to be published in the Astrophysical Journal. "Locating the source of coronal heating is a key piece of this puzzle, and we are excited that solar observatories like TRACE are allowing us to resolve the hidden events occurring in the atmospheres of stars."

The new observations reveal the location of the unidentified energy source, showing that most of the heating occurs low in the corona, within about 10,000 miles from the Sun's visible surface. The gas fountains form arches, hundreds of thousands of miles high, capable of surrounding 30 Earths. As gas emerges from the solar surface, it's heated and rises, then cools and crashes back to the surface at more than 60 miles per second.

Millions of different-sized coronal loops comprise the corona, and a 30-year-old theory assumes the loops are heated evenly throughout their height. The TRACE observations show that instead, most of the heating must occur at the base of the loops, near where they emerge from and return to the solar surface.

The old theory of uniform heating predicted that the loops would be substantially hotter at their tops because gas at the top of the loops is thinner, and does not radiate heat away as efficiently as the dense gas near the bottom. If the loop were heated evenly over its entire height, the top, which can't lose heat as well, would become hotter than the rest. Earlier, less- detailed observations of the coronal loops could not confirm nor invalidate the uniform heating theory because they could not reveal that the loop tops were really about the same temperature as the bases.

However, the high-resolution TRACE pictures show that, just as a thick piece of rope consists of many thin fibers, what was thought to be one coronal loop is actually a bundle of thin, individual loops. Although some thin loops in the bundle are hotter than other spirals, precise measurements by TRACE show that, over its height, each separate, thin loop varies much less than the uniform heating theory predicts.

"Since a loop loses heat most rapidly from its bases, most of the heat must also be going in at the bases for the loop to be at a uniform temperature," said Dr. Karel Schrijver, a member of the research team, also of LMSAL. "If this were not so, the lower parts would have been much cooler than the tops, which do not lose heat as quickly."

NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin unveiled the new TRACE images today, along with Ellen Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, at the museum's Rose Center for Earth and Space, New York.

TRACE, launched in April 1998, is training its powerful telescope on the "transition region" of the Sun's atmosphere, a dynamic region between the relatively cool surface and lower atmosphere regions of the Sun, about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the extremely hot upper atmosphere, which burns up to 3 million degrees Fahrenheit.

For images and more information on the Internet, visit:

Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-5017) September 26, 2000

http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/GSFC/SpaceSci/sunearth/tracecl.htm

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:


Telecoms: Spark Welcomes Spectrum Allocation And Prepares For 5G Rollout Over The Next 12 Months

Spark welcomes spectrum allocation and prepares for 5G rollout over the next 12 months Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz ... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO:



University Of Canterbury: Astronomers Discover The Science Behind Star Bursts That Light Up The Sky

University of Canterbury (UC) astronomers are part of an international team that has revealed how explosions on the surface of a white dwarf star can increase its brightness by thousands or millions of times making it look like a new star. For ... More>>

Air NZ: Air New Zealand Adds Business-timed Flights For Regions

Air New Zealand will operate business-timed flights in and out of a number of regional ports from next month.
The flights will allow customers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill to undertake a day of business in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch... More>>

ALSO: