The magnetic field of the Sun turns out to be ten times stronger than what is created - The Province

The magnetic field of the Sun turns out to be ten times stronger than what is created - The Province

The sun's magnetic field is ten times stronger than previously thought, according to a study of a particularly strong solar flare that erupted near the surface of the Sun in September 2017.

The new research, carried out by Queen's University of Belfast and Aberystwyth University, took advantage then a combination of favorable conditions and an element of luck that allowed the team to determine the strength of the magnetic field of the flare with an unprecedented precision, thanks to the 1 meter Swedish Solar Telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory.

The researchers, led by David Kuridze - a leading authority on the use of ground-based telescopes to study the solar corona - believe that the findings have the potential to change our understanding of the processes that occur in the immediate atmosphere of the sun.

Speaking about the finding, Kuridze said in a statement: "Everything that happens in the outer atmosphere of the Sun is dominated by the magnetic field, but we have very few measurements of its strength and spatial characteristics.

"These are critical parameters, the most important for the physics of the solar corona, it's like trying to understand the Earth's climate without being able to measure its temperature in several geographic locations.

"This is the first time we've been able to Accurately measure the magnetic field of the coronal loops, the building blocks of the sun's magnetic corona, which have such a level of precision. "

With an extension of 1,400,000 kilometers (109 times larger than Earth) and 150,000,000 kilometers from Earth, the crown of the Sun extends millions of kilometers above the surface.

Solar flares appear as bright flashes and they occur when the magnetic energy that has accumulated in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released.

Until now, the successful measurement of the magnetic field has been hampered by the weakness of the signal from the solar atmosphere that reaches the Earth and the limitations in the available instrumentation.

Responsible for the confinement of the solar plasma

The magnetic fields reported in this study are similar to those of a typical refrigerator magnet and approximately 100 times weaker than the magnetic field found in an MRI scanner.

But nevertheless, are responsible for the confinement of the solar plasma, which constitutes solar flares, up to 20,000 kilometers above the solar surface.

During a 10-day period in September 2017, Kuridze studied an active area on the surface of the Sun that the team knew was particularly volatile.

However, the telescope used can only focus on 1% of the surface of the Sun at any given time. Fortunately, I was focused on exactly the right area and at the right time when the solar flare erupted.

These solar flares can lead to storms that, if they hit the Earth, they form the northern lights. They can also interrupt communications satellites and GPS systems, as demonstrated on this occasion in September 2017.


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