Sun  ID: 10815

Surfing Waves On The Sun

Cue the surfing music. Scientists have spotted the iconic surfer's wave rolling through the atmosphere of the sun. This makes for more than just a nice photo-op: the waves hold clues as to how energy moves through that atmosphere, known as the corona. Since scientists know how these kinds of waves—initiated by a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability if you're being technical—disperse energy in the water, they can use this information to better understand the corona. This in turn, may help solve an enduring mystery of why the corona is thousands of times hotter than originally expected. Seeing the big waves suggests they can cascade down to smaller forms of turbulence too. Scientists believe that the friction created by turbulence—the simple rolling of material over and around itself—could help add heating energy to the corona. Look for the waves rolling around the edges of the expanding dark spots in this visualization from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, captured on April 8, 2010.

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Story Credits

Video Editor:
Scott Wiessinger (USRA)

Leon Ofman (NASA/GSFC)

Chris Smith (HTSI)

Scott Wiessinger (USRA)

Lead Scientist:
Leon Ofman (NASA/GSFC)

Chris Smith (HTSI)
Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Michelle Williams (UMBC)
Jennifer A. Shoemaker (UMBC)

Lead Writer:
Karen Fox (ADNET Systems, Inc.)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Top image credit goes to Danny Ratcliffe, GSFC
Bottom image, NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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