by Tammy Plotner on July 29, 2011
“Have you ever seen the hot summer wind blow across a ripening field of wheat? If so, you’re familiar with the rippling effect. Now imagine that same crop – only the stalks are 32,000 feet high and on the surface of the Sun. This cascading effect is called Alfvén waves.
These jets, known as spicules, were captured in an SDO image on April 25, 2010. Combined with the energy from ripples in the magnetic field, they may contain enough energy to power the solar wind that streams from the sun toward Earth at 1.5 million miles per hour. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA
Thanks to NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), we’re now able to see the effect of Alfvén waves, track their movements and see how much energy is being carried along. These new findings have enlighten[ed] solar researchers and may be the key to two other enigmatic solar occurrences – the intense heating of the corona to some 20 times hotter than the Sun’s surface and solar winds that blast up to 1.5 million miles per hour.
‘ SDO has amazing resolution so you can actually see individual waves,’ says Scott McIntosh at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. ‘ Now we can see that instead of these waves having about 1000th the energy needed as we previously thought, it has the equivalent of about 1100W light bulb for every 11 square feet of the Sun’s surface, which is enough to heat the Sun’s atmosphere and drive the solar wind.’ ”
There is a lot more. See the full article here.
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