MAY 07, 2018 4:46 PM PDT

Scientists Confirm Existence of Solar Rossby Waves

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Another day, another discovery. Researchers from both the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and University of Göttingen say that they’ve discovered Rossby waves residing on the Sun’s surface.

This diagram depicts the size and rotation of the solar Rossby waves discovered in the study.

Image Credit: MPS/NASA/HormesDesign

The findings, published in the journal Nature Astronomy this week, were made possible by six years’ worth of observations made with the Heliospheric and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

The researchers refer to the Sun-centric counterparts as ‘solar Rossby waves,’ but we still know very little about them and how they might influence the Sun.

"Solar Rossby waves have very small amplitudes, and periods of several months, thus they are extremely difficult to detect," said Prof. Dr. Laurent Gizon, a co-author of the study.

Related: Solar tornadoes don't actually spin like tornadoes

Scientists have long known about Rossby waves here on Earth and on some other planets in the solar system. While they've theorized about their existence on the Sun for decades, they hadn't proven their existence until now.

Rossby waves can influence weather conditions on planets, but scientists aren't entirely sure how they impact the Sun. On theory is that they might drive significant amounts of kinetic energy.

With HMI, the researchers analyzed the solar Rossby waves more closely. Granules on the solar surface spanned up to 1,500 kilometers across and served as indicators for the underlying, supermassive waves that penetrated up to 20,000 kilometers into the Sun’s interior.

"All in all, we find large-scale waves of vorticity on the Sun that move in the direction opposite to rotation. That these waves are only seen in the equatorial regions is completely unexpected", Gizon added.

"Solar Rossby waves are gigantic in size, with wavelengths comparable to the solar radius."

Related: 'Maunder Minimum'-like solar behavior expected within the next few decades

While the discovery in and of itself is remarkable, future research into solar Rossby waves may shed light on their purpose and how they impact the Sun’s internal dynamics, among other things.

Source: Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Develop Interstellar Sunscreen to Block Deadly Rays
AUG 04, 2020
Scientists Develop Interstellar Sunscreen to Block Deadly Rays
Outside of the Earth's magnetic field exist many kinds of dangerous radiation. These include ultraviolet, X-rays, an ...
AUG 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
AUG 22, 2020
Are There More Rogue Planets than Stars?
Researchers from Ohio State University have theorized that there may be more rogue planets (planets that don't orbit ...
AUG 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Planet-wide Rainstorms Created Lakes on Ancient Mars
AUG 26, 2020
Planet-wide Rainstorms Created Lakes on Ancient Mars
Researchers from the University of Texas have found that a huge amount of liquid water likely rained down from the skies ...
OCT 03, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
New observations on supermassive black holes
OCT 03, 2020
New observations on supermassive black holes
New observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) provide insight on how supermas ...
OCT 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
OCT 23, 2020
Astronomers Merge AI and Photonics to Find New Earths
Researchers from the University of Sydney have developed a new type of sensor capable of measuring and correcting starli ...
NOV 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Martian Water Vapor Gets Swept Into Space
NOV 19, 2020
Martian Water Vapor Gets Swept Into Space
Mars was once a planet with oceans of water. So what happened to all of it? Researchers used a tool called MAVEN (Mars A ...
Loading Comments...