Space

The Sun's magnetic field might be 10 times stronger than we thought

The Sun's magnetic field controls many phenomena, such as this solar flare seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The Sun's magnetic field controls many phenomena, such as this solar flare seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
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The Sun's magnetic field controls many phenomena, such as this solar flare seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
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The Sun's magnetic field controls many phenomena, such as this solar flare seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

A new study by Queen's University Belfast and Aberystwyth University indicates that the Sun's magnetic field is 10 times more powerful than previously thought. By analyzing a solar flare on September 10, 2017 using the Swedish one-meter Solar Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma in the Canary Islands, Dr David Kuridze, Research Fellow at Aberystwyth University, was able to determine that the magnetic field is an order of magnitude greater than earlier measurements have suggested.

The Sun's magnetic field is of more than academic interest. Though the Sun is so far away that its light takes eight minutes to reach us, its magnetic field has tremendous impact on our world.

The solar magnetic field reaches out and defines the limits of the solar system. It shields us from galactic cosmic rays. It confines and directs the massive solar flares that burst from the Sun's interior and expand to over 20,000 km (12,500 mi) above its surface.

The solar magnetic field also has more direct effects on us. It can impact terrestrial weather and climate. Its effects form the auroras in the polar regions and it can affect magnetic compasses, GPS, and radio communications. A really big solar magnetic storm might even lead to an electromagnetic pulse event that could knock out the power grid of an entire continent.

According to the new study, the problem is that the Sun's magnetic field isn't so easy to measure. Instruments are limited and the Earth's atmosphere tends to dampen the solar lines of force, making them appear weaker than they really are. But through good fortune and favourable conditions, the researchers were able to gain a clearer picture by turning their telescope to an area of the Sun's surface they knew to be particularly volatile.

Kuridze says that by observing the Sun over a 10-day period, his team was lucky enough to catch a large flare and by analyzing its structure inside the Sun's corona, he calculated that the Sun's magnetic field is 10 times stronger than previously believed. This may sound daunting, but that makes it only about as strong as a fridge magnet, or 100 times less than that of an MRI scanner.

"Everything that happens in the Sun's outer atmosphere is dominated by the magnetic field, but we have very few measurements of its strength and spatial characteristics," says Kuridze. "These are critical parameters, the most important for the physics of the solar corona. It is a little like trying to understand the Earth's climate without being able to measure its temperature at various geographical locations.

"This is the first time we have been able to measure accurately the magnetic field of the coronal loops, the building blocks of the Sun's magnetic corona, with such a level of accuracy."

Source: Queen's University Belfast

4 comments
ljaques
Tell Carrington and NASA what the mere power of "a simple fridge magnet" is capable of. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 and https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23jul_superstorm . Whether it's a nuke or coronal mass ejection, it's a real threat which our leaders should be preparing for. Ditto each of us. Got ferrites?
Jasbee_Jones
In other words.... Scientists prove that they really don't know that much and peddle their guesses as facts.
Wolf0579
Jasbee Jones, No. It tells us, that, unlike religion, and so-called "spirituality" (so far, despite thousands of attempts, no one has proven a spirit even exists!) Science is SELF-CORRECTING. New data is incorporated into the current base of human knowledge, and whatever changes that need to be made are made until everything agrees. Capice? It's that approach that got humans to the moon and BACK, and built the web you used to write your "illuminated" opinion. So please re-examine your snide, anti-science views, and consider removing your foot from your mouth.
Wolf0579
Ben Davidson and the folks at Suspicious 0bservers (note the "O" is actually a zero) on Youtube, have been postulating a magnetic/electrical connection/interaction between our local star and it's planets for a number of years now, and have a working hypothesis of solar activity and earthquake connection, that has allowed them to predict with a fair amount of accuracy, where and when large earthquakes are going to occur within a two to three day time frame. I highly suggest them, although I do not endorse all of their theories.