Friday, June 21, 2024

“First spacecraft to touch the Sun” solves ancient mystery of fast solar wind – Kech 24: Morocco News – Kech 24: Moroccan Electronic Newspaper


NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) flew close to the Sun to detect the precise structure of the solar wind on the surface of our star – the “coronal holes” in the heliosphere.

Scientists can now better predict solar storms that can charge auroras over our planet, but can also disrupt communications and energy infrastructure and pose a threat to satellites, spacecraft and even astronauts.

A new study reports that the Parker Solar Probe (the first spacecraft to “touch” the Sun) has tracked the solar wind — the stream of charged particles constantly flowing from the Sun — back to its point of origin. This allowed scientists to see the properties of the solar wind as it exits the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, and before it reaches Earth as a relatively regular stream.

NASA’s Solar Probe observed streams of high-energy particles that make up the solar wind inside coronal holes called “supergrain flows.” The discovery indicated that these regions are the source of the “fast” solar wind found above the Sun’s poles, which can reach speeds of up to 1.7 million miles per hour (2.7 million kilometers per hour), about 1,000 times the maximum speed. A jet fighter.

Coronal holes, or as they are also called coronal holes, are where the Sun’s rays are colder and therefore darker, and less dense than the average plasma due to less energy and gas.

Coronal holes are thought to form in regions where magnetic field lines emerge from the Sun’s surface, but do not recede. It spreads open magnetic field lines to fill the space around the Sun.

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During quiescent periods of our star’s 11-year activity cycle, coronal holes are typically seen at the Sun’s poles. That is, the solar wind escaping from coronal holes does not normally travel towards Earth. But as the Sun becomes more active and its magnetic field ‘flips’, changing poles, coronal holes become more common, and these powerful streams of charged particles can be directed towards our planet.

This knowledge and these new findings could help predict catastrophic solar storms, study team members said.

“Winds carry a lot of information from the Sun to Earth, so understanding the mechanism behind the Sun’s wind is important for practical reasons on Earth. It affects our ability to understand how the Sun emits energy,” James Drake, team co-leader and University of Maryland College Park professor, explained in a statement. And drive geomagnetic storms, which pose a threat to our communications networks.”

The team members noted that coronal holes act like a showerhead by spraying jets of charged particles from evenly spaced “bright spots” where magnetic fields extend from the Sun’s surface.

It forms trails that are about 29,000 km across and can be seen as bright “jets” inside coronal holes on Earth.

The new study indicates that the solar wind is the result of a process called magnetic reconnection, when magnetic fields with opposite directions move in and out of the Sun’s surface. This process, called magnetic reconnection, is responsible for the ejection of charged particles that we see as the solar wind.

The scientists determined this because some of the observed particle speeds were 10 times faster than the average solar wind – something that would only be possible due to a strong event like magnetic reconnection.

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The team behind the new study was able to pinpoint not only the source of the solar wind, but also the engine that produces energy on the Sun’s surface.

Plasma cannot escape from the Sun because it does not have the energy to resist the star’s gravity. However, if it accelerates enough, it is enough to push any escaping wind out of the Sun’s surface through the process of magnetic reconnection.

The team published their findings in a review article June 7 in the journal Nature.

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Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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