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Space Science

Mystery of Sun's Outer Atmosphere Solved 56

xp65 writes "For decades, scientists have puzzled over the mystery of why temperatures in the solar corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, soar to several million Kelvin (K) — much hotter than temperatures nearer the sun's surface. New observations made with instruments aboard Japan's Hinode satellite reveal the culprit to be nanoflares. Nanoflares are small, sudden bursts of heat and energy. 'They occur within tiny strands that are bundled together to form a magnetic tube called a coronal loop,' says astrophysicist James Klimchuk. Coronal loops are the fundamental building blocks of the thin, translucent gas known as the sun's corona. The discovery that nanoflares play an important and perhaps dominant role in coronal heating paves the way to understanding how the sun affects Earth and its atmosphere."
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Mystery of Sun's Outer Atmosphere Solved

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  • by trav242 ( 645556 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @10:05AM (#29075773)
    This is one of the first things I asked my fiancee when she was studying solar physics (specifically magnetohydrodynamics or MHD). The answer I always got was "we don't know yet." It's nice to see some new research in this area, coupled with an explanation that a non-physicist can at least grasp.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @12:34PM (#29076513)

    real Americans use Rankine (F + 460) for absolute temperature - We don't use them Gawdless frogger-varmint socialist measures!

  • by Latinhypercube ( 935707 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @03:05PM (#29077663)
    Don't be disheartened. Since we don't even know the mechanisms behind Gravity I find it hilarious it has so many zealots. We can't find it on a subatomic level, and it doesn't work as expected on a galactic level. It also predicts that 96% of the universe is invisible to us. I would say at the very least that we understand Electricity far better than we understand Gravity.
  • by buckethead ( 133919 ) <> on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:19PM (#29078207) Homepage

    When the dark matter/dark energy theories first started coming around, my first thought was, "That sounds like a fudge." The universe was not behaving the way theory predicts - the rotation rates of the galaxies did not go the way that gravity predicted. So, dark matter was proposed to create more mass where none could be seen, to restore balance to the universe. The add-ons continued, to the point where astrophysics now suggests that an overwhelming percentage of the physical universe is invisible and indetectable. Which sounded strange, but I let it pass having other things to occupy my mind, and three kids to boot.

    I ran across the plasma cosmology through sf author James Hogan, and I read a little more, and it does explain some things that conventional theories do not, and often, it does so much more simply. In the case of the rotation of spiral arms, it suggests that electrical currents are affecting the rotation speed - without recourse to invisible matter. Electromagnetism is 40 or so orders of magnitude stronger than gravity, so, hey, that might make a difference, seeing as 99% of the visible universe is plasma. In the case of the sun, if these electrical currents are out there in the galaxy, then it suggests that we are in the middle of them too, and like the above post suggests, the solar wind does pretty much meet the definition of an electrical current.

    The anonymous coward's tone is a little abrasive, but modding him down for espousing a non-mainstream viewpoint is not cool, imho. There's some interesting thinking going on. And won't we all be embarrassed if, a hundred years from now, the hip people look on our astrophysics with dark matter and dark energy as a more recent version of epicycles?

  • Re:alternative (Score:1, Interesting)

    by binaryseraph ( 955557 ) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @04:20PM (#29078209)
    ah, gotcha. Right- so sorry i missread that. Funny thing about slashdot- if you dare speak ill (or crack a joke about): Linux,google,environment or apple you are sure to get trouced. There is an almost one-sided view that all users must take or face some sort of arbitrary modding. Though i guess its evident that I dont read the posts right either, so maybe i have it coming. Sorry again for that!

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!