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Can Spicules Explain the Mysteries of Coronal Heating?

6 Jan 2011, 19:06 UTC
Can Spicules Explain the Mysteries of Coronal Heating? NASA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

There’s one recurring question I’ve been asking for nearly a decade: Why is the Sun’s corona (its atmosphere) so hot? When asking this out loud I inevitably get the sarcastic “um, because the Sun is… hot?” reply. Yes, the Sun is hot, really hot, but solar physicists have spent the last half-century trying to understand [...]

Solar spicules as imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (NASA)
There’s one recurring question I’ve been asking for nearly a decade: Why is the Sun’s corona (its atmosphere) so hot?
When asking this out loud I inevitably get the sarcastic “um, because the Sun is… hot?” reply. Yes, the Sun is hot, really hot, but solar physicists have spent the last half-century trying to understand why the corona is millions of degrees hotter than the solar surface.
After all, if the air surrounding a light bulb was a couple of magnitudes hotter than the bulb’s surface, you’d want to know why that’s the case, right? At first glance, the solar atmosphere is breaking all kinds of thermodynamic laws.
The Sun is a strange beast and because of its magnetic dominance, energy travels through the solar body in rather unfamiliar ways. And today, ...

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