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Images from NJIT Big Bear Solar Observatory Peel Away Layers of a Stellar Mystery

23 Nov 2019, 12:06 UTC
Images from NJIT Big Bear Solar Observatory Peel Away Layers of a Stellar Mystery
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An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely mechanism - jets of magnetized plasma known as spicules that spurt like geysers from the Sun's upper atmosphere into the corona.In a paper published in the journal Science, the team describes key features of jet-like spicules that are in solar terms small-scale plasma structures, between 200 and 500 kilometers wide, that erupt continuously across the Sun's expanse. The researchers also, for the first time, show where and how the jets are generated and the paths they travel, at speeds of around 100 kilometers per second in some cases, into the corona."Unprecedented high-resolution observations from BBSO's Goode Solar Telescope clearly show that when magnetic fields with opposite polarities reconnect in the Sun's lower atmosphere these jets of ...

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