New observations from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Solar Orbiter reveal that the constant reconnection of small magnetic field lines may be at least part of the reason why some parts of the Sun are warmer than others.
The problem is that the sun's surface is about 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,932 Fahrenheit) - a normal temperature for a sun-like star. But the material in its atmosphere only gets hotter with distance from the surface, peaking at 2 million degrees Celsius in the highest regions known as the corona.
We've known about this coronal temperature inversion since the 1940s, and it's thought to be a common feature of stars. But what scientists haven't been able to pinpoint is the cause. One candidate solution is continuous magnetic reconnection on a small scale.
At least on a large scale, magnetic reconnection is a well-documented solar behavior. Most stars are turbulent balls of incredibly hot plasma. A liquid composed of charged particles interacts strongly with electromagnetic forces. This means that bodies like our sun are positively pulsing with highly complex and chaotic magnetic fields. Outside the innermost layer of the Sun's atmosphere, known as its photosphere, these magnetic field lines can intertwine, stretch, capture and reconnect.
This produces a massive burst of energy - the engine that powers solar flares and coronal mass ejections that send particles blasting through the solar system.
On smaller scales, scientists believed that these reconnection events would inject energy into the corona, thus providing it with a heating source. But the sun is so bright and hot that it is difficult to observe it; We simply didn't have enough resolution to see the small scales on which this process would occur.
And this is where Solar Orbiter comes into the picture. Launched in February 2020, the European Space Agency's (ESA) solar probe has been closing in on our star, zooming to perilous close-ups in a series of repeated encounters to study its activity in stunning detail.
When the spacecraft made its first approach, it noticed something startling. On March 3, 2022, ultra-high-resolution images at intense ultraviolet wavelengths revealed magnetic reconnection occurring on very fine scales — just 390 kilometers (242 miles) across.
This is actually unbelievable. Scientists have been able to solve and study a phenomenon slightly smaller than the length of the "Grand Canyon" on the surface of the sun.
Over the course of an hour, the spacecraft recorded a point known as the empty point, where the magnetic field strength drops to zero. This is the point of magnetic reconnection. During this time frame, the zero point temperature was maintained at around 10 million degrees Celsius. The point blank also produced a continuous jet that streamed away at speeds of about 80 kilometers per second, visible as "blobs" of plasma.
This is known as "gentle" reconnection, but the point blank also showed a phase of more violent reconnection. This reconnection process lasted only four minutes, but it showed that the two types of reconnection were happening simultaneously, and on smaller scales than we had previously been able to resolve.
These two types of reconnection would transfer mass and energy to the corona above them, providing a source of heat that could explain at least some of the poorly understood temperature inversion.
The results also indicate that reconnection may occur on scales too small for Solar Orbiter to resolve, at least in this close approach. The next several images, in addition to the one that just occurred on April 10, will be zoomed in, which may lead to more high-resolution observations.
Meanwhile, we have the first observational evidence that stable, small-scale magnetic reconnection occurs on the Sun's surface, validating a long-standing hypothesis about how the corona is heated, and taking us a step closer to knowing how the corona is heated.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. Source: ScienceAlert
Russia is developing new technologies that improve the quality of communication with spacecraft
The Russian State Technical University of Saratov announced the development of new technologies that improve the quality of communication between spacecraft and ground space monitoring stations.
"Scientists at our university have been able to develop new technologies that will secure reliable communications and improve the quality of communications between spacecraft and Earth-based space monitoring stations," said a statement issued by the university's press service.
The statement added, "The main part of the new devices is a resonator used to generate and amplify electromagnetic oscillations. This type of device is required for the missile and spacecraft industry in Russia. The new technologies that we used in manufacturing these devices will improve the reliability and efficiency of the work of communication systems in spacecraft."
The statement indicated that scientists at the university are currently cooperating with a Russian institution that is working on developing advanced radio technologies, and this cooperation has resulted in the production of several models of new communication devices for spacecraft, and the process of testing these devices is currently underway under the supervision of Vladislav Tsarev, Professor and Professor at Department of Electronics of the Russian Institute of Electronic Engineering.
On the subject, Alexey Miroshnichenko, a doctor in technology and electronics sciences in Russia, said: "The new Russian technologies for communication systems in spacecraft have small dimensions and high reliability, and the important thing is that their work is not affected by cosmic radiation." Source: Vesti
Amazing footage showing a massive hurricane from the sun!
Amateur astrophotography is becoming increasingly popular with the astronomy community, as advances in telescope and camera technologies allow individuals from all walks of life to observe the skies in stunning detail.
This was recently explained by Andrew McCarthy (@TwitterAJamesMcCarthy), who owns and operates Cosmic Background Studios, and is originally from Northern California but currently resides in Florence, Arizona.
On March 18, 2023, McCarthy tweeted a video of what appeared to be a tornado on the surface of the sun.
And although this feature doesn't look that huge, McCarthy provides a set of 14 pieces within the video to show the sheer size of this tornado-like beast. But while tornadoes are common on Earth, what happens on the Sun's surface to create such a unique phenomenon?
"This is a solar prominence in the solar chromosphere," McCarthy recently told Universe Today. "A mass of plasma trapped in a magnetic ring, pulling it away from the photosphere and more than 100,000 miles into space. Solar material is 'raining' from its place into the sun."
McCarthy told Universe Today that this sequence was filmed using a modified telescope that can observe the sun's atmosphere in what is known as the hydrogen alpha range using hundreds of thousands of images over the course of a few hours, and says that this was not a random encounter while observing the sun's behavior on a daily basis.
"Each frame of the video was a stack of about 500 individual images," McCarthy said. "The feature was relatively faint compared to the brighter solar disk, so it was difficult to resolve the contrast with glare in another way."
Alongside the video, McCarthy collaborated with colleague Jason Guenzel (@TwitterTheVastReaches) to produce a stunning 140-megapixel still of the Sun with a tornado visible at the top of the image.
McCarthy mentions a few layers of the Sun, including the prominence, chromosphere, photosphere, and corona. This is because while the Sun appears to be a uniform structure on the surface, it has layers like the Earth and other celestial bodies. The photosphere is the visible surface of the sun that we see daily and in astronomical observations. Its thickness is about 100 kilometers, which is very small compared to the diameter of the sun, which is about 1,400,000 kilometers, and its temperature ranges between 3,700 and 6,200 degrees Celsius.
The chromosphere is defined as an irregular layer located above the photosphere and is about 2,500 km thick with a temperature range of 6,000 to 20,000°C. A prominence is the large, bright feature that radiates from the sun, like the tornado-like feature McCarthy photographed, and temperatures here range from 4,700 to 50,000 degrees Celsius.
The solar corona consists of the sun's outer atmosphere and exhibits the greatest temperature at 2 million degrees Celsius. The corona can only be seen during a solar eclipse. Source: ScienceAlert
Russia and Kazakhstan continue to cooperate in the development of the Baikonur cosmodrome
Ross Cosmos announced that it continues to cooperate with Kazakhstan in building a new missile launch complex at the Baikonur cosmodrome.
During a meeting with the Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aviation Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Baghdad Musin, the head of the "Ross Cosmos" Foundation, Yuri Barisov, said: "Russia and Kazakhstan are continuing to complete the project to develop the Baiterek complex at the Baikonur cosmodrome.. We are determined to complete this project to the end because it secures a future Al-Qaeda, and the Kazakh party also has the intention to move forward with this project.
In 2018, Russia and Kazakhstan signed protocols to amend the agreements that were between them regarding the development of the new Baiterek complex at the Baikonur space base. Complexes for the preparation and launch of new Russian space missiles. In turn, Russia is responsible for the development of the Soyuz-5 and Soyuz-6 missiles that will be launched from the aforementioned complex.
Russia relies on the "Baikonur" base for many space launches, especially in launching vehicles towards the International Space Station. Source: Vesti