Scientists have identified the source of ghostly shadows in the sun’s atmosphere

(ORDO NEWS) — Finally, we may have an explanation for the mysterious shadows of falling matter in the Sun’s atmosphere observed during solar flares.

First discovered in 1999, these mysterious shadows, called “downward-moving dark voids”, were thought to be related to magnetic field interactions that cause solar eruptions. Physicists have found that this is not actually the case; rather, these “super-darcade downdrafts” are the result of fluid interactions in the solar plasma.

This phenomenon is very similar to structures seen at shock interfaces in supernova remnants, where instability also leads to the formation of long, finger-like structures. The discovery will help us better understand the wild behavior of our stormy Sun.

The idea that structures could have something to do with the Sun’s magnetic field is not without merit, since the Sun’s extremely complex and erratic magnetic fields are what start flares.

Our star is a seething, turbulent ball of incredibly hot plasma, a fluid of charged particles that interact strongly with electromagnetic forces. Since the Sun is a sphere, the equatorial surface rotates faster than the poles.

This leads to entanglement of the solar magnetic field, which in turn can create strong localized magnetic fields throughout the Sun, opening up sunspots from which flares arise.

In these localized magnetic fields, the lines of force can become chaotic. At the base of solar flares, opposite lines connect, break, and reconnect. Powerful layers of electric current are also pulled through the central region of the solar flare. This magnetic reconnection releases energy and accelerates the electrons to

“It’s like stretching a rubber band and cutting it down the middle. It’s stressed and stretched, so it will break,” said astronomer Kathy Reeves of the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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