Updated: Mar 29
By: Yahoo News
Mysterious, inexplicably fast waves are coming out of the Sun, scientists say.
The wave are moving three times more quickly than was previously thought possible, according to new research.
Scientists describe the waves as a “true mystery” that suggest there could be other, undiscovered physical processes at work. They might also offer a unique insight into the interior of the Sun, which usually cannot be observed.
The findings came after scientists examined 25 years of data gathered on the Sun from both space and on Earth. They found the new set of waves – known as high-frequency retrograde or HFR waves – appear as swirls on the surface.
Those swirls or vortices move in the opposite direction to usual as well as going more quickly than theory would suggest.
Scientists tend to examine the universe using conventional astronomy, such as optical light or x-rays. But the inside of the Sun and other stars is not possible to examine in that way – and scientists must instead watch for waves on the surface to understand the inside of stars.
The new HFR waves could prove an important way to do that, the researchers say.
But it would be helpful to know why they are able to move so fast as to be seemingly impossible. Some possible solutions include interactions between other well known waves and magnetism, gravity or convection .
“If the HFR waves could be attributed to any of these three processes, then the finding would have answered some open questions we still have about the Sun,” said said Chris S Hanson, who led the research. “However, these new waves don’t appear to be a result of these processes, and that’s exciting because it leads to a whole new set of questions.”
Scientists hope they can use those waves and others to better understand what dynamics are at play inside the star. That could in turn inform our sense of how the Sun affects the Earth and the solar system’s other planets.
“The very existence of HFR modes and their origin is a true mystery and may allude to exciting physics at play,” said Shravan Hanasoge, a co-author of the paper. “It has the potential to shed insight on the otherwise unobservable interior of the Sun.”
The findings are described in a new study, ‘Discovery of high-frequency-retrograde vorticity waves in the Sun’, published in Nature Astronomy today.