(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of solar physicists, including scientists from the University of Northumbria, UK, conducted the first-ever measurements of the global magnetic field in the outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, called the corona, in the new study.
The team used observations from the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter (CoMP) instrument, which measures the amount of infrared radiation coming from the solar atmosphere.
The sun is a magnetic star, and the magnetic field plays an important role in the formation of the solar atmosphere. The magnetic field influences many processes taking place on the Sun, and determines the 11-year cycle of solar activity, spectacular eruptions, as well as the heating of the hot gas (plasma) in the solar corona to temperatures of the order of millions of degrees.
The magnetic field penetrates various layers of the solar atmosphere, therefore, to get an idea of the interaction between the solar plasma and the magnetic field, information is required on the structure of the entire magnetic field of our star as a whole.
Until now, however, reliable measurements of the solar magnetic field have been available only for the active surface layer of our star (known as the photosphere).
In the new study, a team including Dr. Richard Morton of the University of Northumbria took the first measurements of the solar corona’s magnetic field using a technique called magnetoseismology. The method involves measuring the speed of waves propagating in the Sun’s atmosphere, called Alfvén waves. The speed of these waves is closely related to the intensity of the magnetic fields, which makes it possible to calculate the parameters of the magnetic field based on the results of studying the kinetic characteristics of the waves, Morton explained.
In this study, for the first time, a global map of the magnetic field of the solar corona was obtained using direct observations, which is an important step towards solving the problem of measuring the magnetic field of the corona of our star, the authors explained.
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