Magnetic plasma waves and pulses have been widely suggested as one of the key mechanisms which could answer the long-standing question of why the temperature of the solar atmosphere rises dramatically, from thousands to millions of degrees, as you move away from the solar surface.
There have been many theories put forward, including some developed at the University of Sheffield -- for example, heating the plasma by magnetic waves or magnetic plasma -- but observational validation of the ubiquity of a suitable energy transport mechanism has proved challenging until now.
Approaches - Mathematicians - Solar - Physics - Space
By developing innovative approaches, applied mathematicians at the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and the University of Science and Technology of China, have discovered unique observational evidence of plentiful energetic wave pulses, named after the Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén, in the solar atmosphere.
These short-lived Alfvén pulses have been found to be generated by prevalent photospheric plasma swirls about the size of the British Isles, which are suggested to have a population of at least 150,000 in the solar photosphere at any moment of time.
Professor - Robertus - Erdélyi - Aka - Fáy-Siebenbürgen
Professor Robertus Erdélyi (a.k.a. von Fáy-Siebenbürgen), Head of SP2RC, said: "Swirling motions are everywhere in the universe, from sinking water in domestic taps with a size of centimeters, to tornadoes on Earth and on the Sun, solar jets and spiral galaxies with a size of up to 520,000 light years. This work has shown, for the first time, the observational evidence that ubiquitous swirls in the solar atmosphere could generate short-lived Alfvén pulses.
"The generated Alfvén pulses easily penetrate the solar atmosphere along cylinder-like magnetic flux tubes, a...
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