Tracking waves from sunspots gives new solar insight

The sun is constantly changing. Material courses through not only the star itself, but throughout its expansive atmosphere. Understanding the dance of this charged gas is a key part of better understanding our sun. Now, for the first time, researchers have tracked a particular kind of solar wave as it swept upward from the sun’s surface through its atmosphere, adding to our understanding of how solar material travels throughout the sun.

Source:: Tracking waves from sunspots gives new solar insight


Proxima Centauri might be more sunlike than we thought

In August astronomers announced that the nearby star Proxima Centauri hosts an Earth-sized planet (called Proxima b) in its habitable zone. At first glance, Proxima Centauri seems nothing like our Sun. It’s a small, cool, red dwarf star only one-tenth as massive and one-thousandth as luminous as the Sun. However, new research shows that it is sunlike in one surprising way: it has a regular cycle of starspots.

Source:: Proxima Centauri might be more sunlike than we thought


Sun's coronal tail wags its photospheric dog

Solar physicists have long viewed the rotation of sunspots as a primary generator of solar flares — the sudden, powerful blasts of electromagnetic radiation and charged particles that burst into space during explosions on the sun’s surface. Their turning motion causes energy to build up that is released in the form of flares. But a team of scientists now claims that flares in turn have a powerful impact on sunspots, the visible concentrations of magnetic fields on the sun’s surface, or photosphere. The researchers argue that flares cause sunspots to rotate at much faster speeds than are usually observed before they erupt.

Source:: Sun’s coronal tail wags its photospheric dog


Researchers discover effect of rare solar wind on earth's radiation belts

Unique measurements of the Van Allen radiation belts, which circle the Earth, have been captured during an extremely rare solar wind event. The findings, which have never been reported before, may be helpful in protecting orbiting telecommunication and navigational satellites, and possibly future astronauts, by helping to more accurately predict space conditions near Earth, as well as around more remote planets.

Source:: Researchers discover effect of rare solar wind on earth’s radiation belts


Are planets setting the sun's pace?

The Sun’s activity is determined by the Sun’s magnetic field. Two combined effects are responsible for the latter: The omega and the alpha effect. Exactly where and how the alpha effect originates is currently unknown. Researchers are now putting forward a new theory. Their calculations suggest that tidal forces from Venus, the Earth and Jupiter can directly influence the Sun’s activity.

Source:: Are planets setting the sun’s pace?


New classes of electron orbits discovered

Phenomena like solar flares and auroras are consequences of magnetic reconnection in the near-Earth space. These “magnetic reconnection” events are akin to magnetic explosions that accelerate particles as they rapidly change the topology of the magnetic field lines. Researchers have used a new Particle-In-Cell (PIC) simulator to understand how magnetic reconnection works for the tenuous plasma surrounding our Earth and have identified new classes of electron orbits that help scientists understand the characteristics of the fast jets of electrons that stream from the reconnection region.

Source:: New classes of electron orbits discovered