The increase in temperature from approximately 6000 degrees on the visible surface of the Sun (photosphere) to well over a million degrees in the higher overlaying solar corona, has remained at the forefront of astrophysical research for over half a century. However, new observations of the lower atmosphere made with the Swedish Solar Telescope in the Canary Islands by scientists from Queen's University Belfast, the University of Sheffield and California State University Northridge.reveal the process behind this phenomenon.
Scientists have observed giant magnetic solar twists that reach from the surface of the sun to the corona carrying huge amounts of energy.
Prof. Mathioudakis, the leader of the Queen's University Belfast Solar Group, said, "Understanding solar activity and its influence on the Earth's climate is of paramount importance for human kind. The solar corona, visible from Earth only during a total solar eclipse, is a very dynamic environment which can erupt suddenly, releasing more energy than 10 billion atomic bombs."
Professor Keith Mason, CEO of the Science and technology Facilities Council which funded the study said, "These are extremely interesting results. Understanding the processes of our Sun is incredibly important as it provides the energy which allows life to exist on Earth and can affect our planet in many different ways. This new finding of magnetic waves in the Sun's lower atmosphere brings us closer to understanding its complex workings and its future effects on the Earth's atmosphere."