Scientists are finally peering inside the sun’s middle corona
Scientists are one step closer to solving a key mystery about the sun.
Researchers have discovered a complex, dynamic, web-like plasma structure in the sun’s middle atmosphere, suggesting that the solar wind — the constant stream of charged particles that flows off the sun — forms within this web. The finding comes from rare observations of an elusive region of the sun and pave the way for a NASA mission due to launch next year.
“We had no idea if it would work or what we would see,” Dan Seaton, a solar physicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “The results were very exciting. For the first time, we have high-quality observations that completely unite our observations of the sun and the heliosphere as a single system.”
Related: Mysterious region of the sun shines in new photo from world’s largest solar telescope
A computer simulation of the middle corona’s magnetic field. (Image credit: Nature Astronomy, Chitta et al.)
The outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere is called the corona and is typically only visible to humans during total solar eclipses, when the moon blocks out most of the sun’s light. The middle corona, which is about 650,000 miles (1 million kilometers) above the sun’s surface, has been the least monitored region of the solar atmosphere, partly because there haven’t been observations of the sun’s corona at heights below 1.3 million miles (2 million km).
In August 2021, researchers announced first-of-their-kind observations of the middle corona in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. Using advanced instruments with extended fields of view, the scientists found that solar wind structures originate in the middle corona. This provided the first comprehensive insight into the emergence of solar winds — a glimpse into understanding an important phenomenon that influences every planet in the solar system.
Solar wind is one example of what scientists call space weather, a collection of ways that the sun and its outbursts can affect Earth. Space weather can destroy electronic equipment, weaken radio communication, add noise to cell phone reception and knock out power grids. However, scientists don’t understand the exact mechanisms that eject solar winds and other space weather, making these events nearly impossible to forecast.
Now, new observations coupled with data from additional space probes and computer models have revealed a complex plasma network in the middle corona.
An international team of researchers analyzed data from a month-long observation campaign using the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) on NOAA’s GOES-17 weather satellite. The satellite’s extended field of view captured images of not only the center of the sun but also its sides, providing an unusual glimpse at this region’s structure and evolution.
“We had the rare opportunity to use an instrument in an unusual way to observe a region that has not really been explored,” Seaton said in a second statement. “We didn’t even know if it would work, but we knew if it did, we’d make important discoveries.”
Using this data, the team tracked a pair of coronal holes — patches of the sun that appear dark and mark where the sun’s magnetic field is open to space and expelling material — as they rotated across the solar disk. When the coronal holes appeared at the sun’s east and west edges, the researchers discovered the middle corona to be a highly structured coronal web called the “S-web.”
This complex web is made of magnetized plasma structures that continuously interact and reconnect. Researchers saw this mechanism at play as it sparked solar wind streams above the coronal web.
The findings from this study could be useful for a NASA mission targeting launch in 2023, the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH). This two-year mission will use 3D imaging to capture the sun’s outer corona and the region of the solar system nearest to it, with a goal to better understand how the corona generates solar wind.
“Now that we can image the sun’s middle corona, we can connect what PUNCH sees back to its origins and have a more complete view of how the solar wind interacts with the rest of the solar system,” Seaton, who is the science operations center lead for PUNCH, said in the statement. “Prior to these observations, very few people believed you could observe the middle corona to these distances in UV. These studies have opened up a whole new approach to observing the corona on a large scale.”
The research is described in a paper (opens in new tab) published Nov. 24 in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Follow Sharmila Kuthunur on Twitter @Sharmilakg. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Corona: Can a new vaccination strategy prevent thousands of deaths?
The vaccination strategy of the Federal Ministry of Health should be known to everyone by now: Depending on their age and any previous illnesses, people in Germany are assigned to one of four vaccination groups. Barmer, with around nine million insured persons the second largest statutory health insurance company in the country, has now criticized this approach in a study. Prioritization is also necessary within the individual groups.
To get the perfect order for the Corona vaccination To determine this, the Barmer Institute for Health System Research (bifg) used the data of its insured persons, who in 2020 Covid-19 were ill. It was then analyzed whether these people had a previous illness – and if so, which one. The scientists were able to identify some shortcomings in the German vaccination strategy. According to the ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Health, nursing staff, over 80-year-olds and residents of nursing homes whose vaccinations are currently being carried out are the top priority. The second priority level includes, for example, people with trisomy 21, dementia or a transplanted organ, as well as those living with an intellectual disability. However, it is not clear who from this group should receive a vaccination particularly quickly. That’s why you need a prioritization within the prioritization, according to the results of the Barmer study.
graphic from Comparison.org
First of all, the collected data indicated that people with Down syndrom actually have the highest risk of death: Compared to completely healthy people, the probability that they will not survive a corona infection is 5.7 times higher. In second place are people with degenerative brain diseases such as dementia, who are also found in the second vaccination group. However, the scientists noticed a serious error in relation to cancer patients: those affected by metastases in the lungs have a 3.8-fold increased risk of dying from an infection with the coronavirus. Nevertheless, these patients are also in the third priority level and will therefore probably have to wait a few more months for their vaccination. Also the meaning of mental and severe neurological diseases was underestimated according to bifg: According to the study, these diseases are associated with a 2.8- and 2.2-fold risk of death. Despite everything, the current vaccination strategy for those affected does not provide for any prioritization.
Explore funny T-Shirt ideas on Amazon.
The bifg also pointed out how many lives could be saved with the revised method. The scientists referred to the assumption that once priority level 2 has been reached, one million Germans can be vaccinated per week. This would result in a 10 percent reduction in the death rate in the first 10 days of vaccination, and a 73 percent reduction after 100 days of vaccination. If the prioritization proposed by Barmer were to be implemented, a reduction of 45 percent could be expected after ten days, and a value of 90 percent was even reached after a hundred days.
Thanks to the open-source principle, other health insurance companies can now access Barmer’s calculation bases and create a similar study using the data of their insured persons. It remains to be seen whether the federal government will respond to the results and revise its vaccination strategy. „We can only offer our help,“ said Barmer boss Christoph Straub in an interview with the daily mirror.
Explore funny T-Shirt ideas on Amazon.
BF 7 variant of Corona virus created a stir, voting is also going on for the last rites
Duration: 04:10 11 hours ago
A new variant of Corona virus BF 7 has been found in the country. This is the same variant which is spreading terror in China. It is also being considered as a sub variant of Omicron. Seeing its devastation in China, the whole world is in awe.