Unraveling knotty problem of Sun's activity
A new approach to analysing the development of magnetic tangles on the Sun has led to a breakthrough in a longstanding debate about how solar energy is injected into the solar atmosphere before being released into space, causing space weather events. The first direct evidence that field lines become knotted before they emerge at the visible surface of the Sun has implications for our ability to predict the behaviour of active regions and the nature of the solar interior. Dr Christopher Prior of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Durham University, will present the work today at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).
Researchers are generally in agreement that solar activity is caused by instabilities in giant twists of magnetic ropes threading the visible surface of the Sun, known as the photosphere. However, there has been an ongoing debate about how these tangles form. The two dominant theories have suggested either that coils of field lines emerge through the photosphere from the convection zone below, or that the feet of arching field lines wrap around each other on the surface …
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