'Pipe organ' plays above the Sun
2007-04-21 0:00

By Paul Rincon | news.bbc.co.uk


Coronal loops are generated by the Sun's magnetic field. Listen: Acoustic waves
Immense coils of hot, electrified gas in the Sun's atmosphere behave like a musical instrument, scientists say.


These "coronal loops" carry acoustic waves in much the same way that sound is carried through a pipe organ.

Solar explosions called micro-flares generate sound booms which are then propagated along the coronal loops.

"The effect is much like plucking a guitar string," Professor Robert von Fay-Siebenbuergen told BBC News at the National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

The corona is an atmosphere of hot, electrically-charged gas - or plasma - that surrounds the Sun. The temperature of the corona should drop the further one moves from the Sun.

But, in fact, the coronal temperature is up to 300 times hotter than the Sun's visible surface, or photosphere. And no one can explain why.

Fiery fountains
The coronal loops arch hundreds of thousands of kilometres above the Sun's surface like huge fiery fountains, and are generated by the Sun's magnetic field.

As solar plasma travels from the photosphere into the loops, it is heated from about 6,000 Kelvin (5,700C) to upwards of one million Kelvin.

Solar explosions called micro-flares can release energy equivalent to millions of hydrogen bombs.

These blasts can send immensely powerful acoustic waves hurtling through the loops at tens of kilometres per second, creating cosmic "organ music".

"These loops can be up to 100 million kilometres long and guide waves and oscillations in a similar way to a pipe organ," said Dr Youra Taroyan, from the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at the University of Sheffield.

The sound booms decay in less than an hour and dissipate in the very hot solar corona.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbuergen, who is director of SP2RC, said that studying how plasma is heated to such high temperatures in coronal loops could speed up the technological development of industrial-scale nuclear fusion on Earth.

'Star on Earth'
Nuclear fusion is the same process which powers the Sun and other stars. Unlike the burning of fossil fuels, fusion reactions produce no carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

Fusion works on the principle that energy can be released by forcing together atomic nuclei rather than by splitting them, as in the case of the fission reactions that drive existing nuclear power stations.

In the core of the Sun, huge gravitational pressure allows this to happen at temperatures of around 10 million Celsius.

At the much lower pressure that is possible on Earth, temperatures to produce fusion need to be much higher - above 100 million Celsius

In nuclear fusion experiments, powerful magnetic fields can be used to isolate hot plasma from the walls of a containment vessel.

This reduces the conductive heat loss, allowing the electrified gas to be heated to high temperatures.

The most promising magnetic confinement systems are ring-shaped; called a torus.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbuergen said a coronal loop could give clues to improving nuclear fusion because it could be regarded as a half-torus.

The Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Preston runs from 16-20 April.

Article from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6574059.stm



Related Articles
The Electric Glow Of The Sun
A Case For The Sun to Be Alive
The Explosion that Shattered Solar Theory
Solar flares will disrupt GPS in 2011
Sunspot Cycles & Natural Disasters
Sunspots and Earthquakes
SUV's On Jupiter? - Solar System Warming
The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame
Forgotten In Time: The Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies
Red Ice Radio - Donald E. Scott - The Electric Sky


Latest News from our Front Page

Professor: Reason Itself Is A White Male Construct
2015-07-04 3:55
A philosophy and religion professor at Syracuse University gave an interview to The New York Times Thursday in which he critiqued the notion of pure reason as simply being a “white male Euro-Christian construction.” Prof. John Caputo was being interviewed by fellow philosophy professor George Yancy for the 13th installment of an interview series Yancy conducts with philosophers regarding racial topics. Given its emphasis on first principles ...
The Broken Window Fallacy
2015-07-04 3:48
Youtube description: This short video explains one of the most persistent economic fallacies of our day. Source: youtube.com
Jenji Kohan and the Jewish Hyper-Sexualization of Western Culture
2015-07-04 3:33
As detailed in The Culture of Critique, Freud and his followers regarded anti-Semitism was a universal pathology which had its roots in sexual repression. The theoretical basis for this can be found in Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality where he linked aggression to the frustration of human drives — especially the sex drive. Kevin MacDonald notes that: ...
Confederate History - Dispelling the Myths
2015-07-03 3:28
History books, the media, the school systems, etc abound in falsehoods and inaccuracies of Confederate and Southern history. This fact sheet will help to clarify and dispell some of these rampant inaccuracies. MYTH - The War of 1861 - 1865 was fought over slavery. FACT - Terribly untrue. The North fought the war over money. Plain ...
Gays Rights May Open Door for Pedophile Rights
2015-07-03 3:31
Democrats have attempted to normalize pedophilia as a sexual orientation. A recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage may soon allow pedophiles to argue they are suffering discrimination. “Using the same tactics used by ‘gay’ rights activists, pedophiles have begun to seek similar status arguing their desire for children is a sexual orientation no different than heterosexual or homosexuals,” writes Jack Minor ...
More News »