OCT 09, 2020 8:25 AM PDT

Why the Sun's Atmosphere is Hotter than its Surface

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers have found evidence of nanojets (bright, thin lights) in the solar atmosphere. These jets, they say, indicate the presence of nanoflares (small, episodic heating events), and could be for understanding why the Sun's outer atmosphere is so much hotter than its surface. 

For the findings, the researchers analyzed high-resolution images from NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission. They then pit the the images against different theories on why the Sun's atmosphere, also known as the 'corona', is so hot to see which they matched best. 

From images taken on April 3rd 2014, they were able to identify a coronal rain event- streams of cooled plasma cascading from the Sun's corona to its surface like a large waterfall. In particular, they noticed bright jets appearing near the end of the event. These, they say, are telltale signs of nanojets, heated plasma traveling so quickly that they appear on images as bright, thin lines. 

Nanojets are thought to be initiated by a process called 'magnetic reconnection', where twisted magnetic fields explosively realign. One such reconnection can set off another, resulting in an avalanche of nanojets in the Sun's corona, which is then thought to generate enough energy to heat the corona. 

Once the researchers identified these jets, they coordinated with NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) and the Hinode observatory to confirm their findings. After combining many observations with advanced computational simulations, they were able to show that the nanojets were clear evidence of magnetic reconnection and nanoflares, and that they indeed contributed to coronal heating.

Although interesting findings, the scientists say that further research is needed to establish the frequency of both the nanojets and nanoflares all over the Sun to properly determine how much they really heat it up. As such, missions including Solar Orbiter and Parker Solar Probe will give more detail on this process over time. 

 

Sources: NASAScience Alert

About the Author
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUL 21, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Very first discovered exoplanet that orbits pulsar might be uncommon
JUL 21, 2022
Very first discovered exoplanet that orbits pulsar might be uncommon
Astronomers from the University of Manchester have recently presented a study at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 202 ...
JUL 23, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Spiraled Planet-Forming Disk Found Near Galactic Center
JUL 23, 2022
Spiraled Planet-Forming Disk Found Near Galactic Center
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, a team of astronomers have observed a massive young star near the cente ...
AUG 03, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Moon lava pits might be toasty environments for future astronauts
AUG 03, 2022
Moon lava pits might be toasty environments for future astronauts
In a recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a collaborative research team from the University of Califo ...
SEP 14, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Project Gemini
SEP 14, 2022
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Project Gemini
This series will explore historic space missions from the start of the Space Age to the present day, including both crew ...
OCT 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Have Discovered the Heaviest Element in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet to Date
OCT 18, 2022
Astronomers Have Discovered the Heaviest Element in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet to Date
In a new study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, astronomers have discovered the heaviest element ever found in ...
NOV 21, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Neutron Star Structure Could be Similar to Chocolate Pralines
NOV 21, 2022
Neutron Star Structure Could be Similar to Chocolate Pralines
A group of scientists at the Goethe University Frankfurt recently published two articles about their work on determining ...
Loading Comments...