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QUB scientists part of team to unlock new discovery of how magnetic waves can help heat the sun

Rsearchers have unlocked a new discovery of how magnetic waves can help heat the sun

SCIENTISTS from Queen's University Belfast are part of an international team of researchers trying to unlock a new discovery of how magnetic waves can help heat the sun.

Mystery remains around how the sun works and why its outer layer is over 10 million degrees while its solar surface - the region we see in the sky - is just 6,000.

For decades researchers have developed new instruments to capture the dynamics of the plasma - the gas which makes up the solar atmosphere - and show that magnetic fields play an important role in transporting energy to the corona, but questions remain around how this happens.

Now a team of researchers, led by Dr Marco Stangalini from the Italian Space Agency, have shed further light on the problem through the discovery of elusive Alfvén waves, in an Earth-sized magnetic pore in the solar photosphere.

Dr Chris Nelson from the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's, who is among the experts, said: "Our research team was able to confirm for the first time the existence of direct signatures of rotational Alfvén waves in a solar pore by tracking the motion of the magnetic field itself.

"We were also able to identify anti-symmetric components, where the magnetic field in different parts of the flux tube rotates in different directions, which may prove to be pivotal in the removal of vast amounts of energy from the solar photosphere into the corona."

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