NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the mbadive flare that erupted from the sun on September 10, 2017. (Credit: NASA / Goddard / SDO)
Studies of a solar flare revealed something unexpected about the sun: its magnetic field is even stronger than scientists predicted.
The measurement of that magnetic field within the loops of material that come out of the sun has been a difficult feat due to the interference of the Earth's atmosphere. But a team led by David Kuridze, a solar physicist at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, was lucky when he saw a super strong flare that the sun belched on September 10, 2017.
The researchers detected the flare using the 1 meter Swedish solar telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands. The solar telescope is a particularly powerful solar telescope, but its opening (viewing area) allows researchers to examine only 1 percent of the sun at a time. Fortunately, the team was looking at exactly the right place when a solar flare erupted.
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This good luck allowed them to measure the intensity of the magnetic field of the flare in the corona or the atmosphere of the sun.
The sun is well known for its magnetic activity, including periodic eruptions that rise from the surface when the magnetic lines twist and "break". Flares are badociated with coronal mbad ejections, which send flows of charged particles into space. If these particles are directed towards the Earth, they can interrupt the satellites or cause colorful auroral screens.
The new finding could help scientists better understand what is happening in the corona, the superheated part of the upper atmosphere of the sun that is visible to humans only during a total solar eclipse. The crown is being studied by a NASA spacecraft called Parker Solar Probe, which is closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft.
"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," Kuridze said in a statement. "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."
The research is described in a document that has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal and was published on the preprint server arXiv.org in February.
Original article on Space.com.