In a dramatic, multi-stage eruption, the sun has revealed a new sign that could help scientists solve the long-standing mystery of the causes of the sun’s powerful and unexpected eruptions. Unveiling these basic physics can help scientists better predict explosions that cause of the world’s most dangerous weather conditions.
The eruption contains three different types of solar eruption components that usually occur separately – this is the first time such an event has been reported. Combining the three types of explosions at an event, scientists provide something like a solar rosta stone. that translates what they knew about each type of solar explosion into a different kind of understanding and uncovers an underlying process that can explain all types of solar explosions.
Emily Mason, lead author of the new study and a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt Maryland, said, “This event is a missing link, where we see all these aspects of different types of eruptions in one neat little package. It happened because of the same mechanism, just on different scales. “
Solar eruptions usually come in one of three forms: a coronal mass ejection, a jet or partial eruption. Coronal mass ejections – CMEs – and jets are both explosive explosions that release energy and particles into space, but they look very different.
As the jets explode as narrow columns of solar material, CMEs form huge bubbles that are stretched, pushed, and sculpted by the sun’s magnetic fields. On the other hand, partial volcanic eruptions start from the surface but do not store enough energy to leave the sun, so most of the material falls back down onto the solar surface.
The eruption – observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and the European Space Agency and NASA Solar and Heliosphere Observatory on March 12 and 13, 2016 – saw scientists emit a hot layer of solar matter above the sun’s magnetically active region on the Sun’s surface.
The ejection was too large to be a jet, but too narrow to be CME. Within half an hour, the second cooler layer above the surface also begins to erupt from the same spot, eventually partially bursting and falling. Seeing the explosion with both jet and CME features, scientists say they were probably caused by a single system.
With this new understanding, scientists can apply what they know about jets in CMEs. The event also told scientists that partial explosions occur in the same spectrum but face some unknown boundaries that limit their energy and do not allow them to go outside the sun.
The mechanism behind these events, especially CMEs, is crucial to predicting when a larger explosion could disrupt the Earth. CME typically releases large clouds of high-energy charged particles and magnetic fields that flow across the solar system and can cause space weather – a storm of high-energy particles and activity that can be dangerous to astronauts and technology in space and, in extreme cases, utility grids on Earth.
Through modeling after the discovery of the new Rosetta volcano and others like it, scientists are hoping that the original method will result in solar explosions and determine their characteristics. Finding the trigger could ultimately allow scientists to speculate that any major explosion could threaten Earth and Mars just hours before – giving ample time for astronauts and spacecraft operators to take precautionary measures.
The new study was presented by Mason at the ASS 238 meeting in June 7, 2021 and has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.