Science Current Events | Science News |

Researchers create 'MRI' of the sun's interior motions

July 09, 2012
A team of scientists has created an "MRI" of the Sun's interior plasma motions, shedding light on how it transfers heat from its deep interior to its surface. The result, which appears in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, upends our understanding of how heat is transported outwards by the Sun and challenges existing explanations of the formation of sunspots and magnetic field generation.

The work was conducted by researchers from NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and its Department of Physics, Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute, and NASA.

The Sun's heat, generated by nuclear fusion in its core, is transported to the surface by convection in the outer third. However, our understanding of this process is largely theoretical-the Sun is opaque, so convection cannot be directly observed. As a result, theories largely rest on what we know about fluid flow and then applying them to the Sun, which is primarily composed of hydrogen, helium, and plasma.

Developing a more precise grasp of convection is vital to comprehending a range of phenomena, including the formation of sunspots, which have a lower temperature than the rest of the Sun's surface, and the Sun's magnetic field, which is created by its interior plasma motions.

In order to develop their "MRI" of the Sun's plasma flows, the researchers examined high-resolution images of the Sun's surface taken by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Using a 16-million pixel camera, HMI measures motions on the Sun's surface caused by convection.

Once the scientists captured the precise movement waves on the Sun's surface, they were able to calculate its unseen plasma motions. This procedure is not unlike measuring the strength and direction of an ocean's current by monitoring the time it takes a swimmer to move across the water-currents moving against the swimmer will result in slower times while those going in the same direction will produce faster times, with stronger and weaker currents enhancing or diminishing the impact on the swimmer.

What they found significantly departed from existing theory--specifically, the speed of the Sun's plasma motions were approximately 100 times slower than scientists had previously projected.

"Our current theoretical understanding of magnetic field generation in the Sun relies on these motions being of a certain magnitude," explained Shravan Hanasoge, an associate research scholar in geosciences at Princeton University and a visiting scholar at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. "These convective motions are currently believed to prop up large-scale circulations in the outer third of the Sun that generate magnetic fields."

"However, our results suggest that convective motions in the Sun are nearly 100 times smaller than these current theoretical expectations," continued Hanasoge, also a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Plank Institute in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. "If these motions are indeed that slow in the Sun, then the most widely accepted theory concerning the generation of solar magnetic field is broken, leaving us with no compelling theory to explain its generation of magnetic fields and the need to overhaul our understanding of the physics of the Sun's interior."


The study's other co-authors were Thomas Duvall, an astrophysicist at NASA, and Katepalli Sreenivasan, University Professor in NYU's Department of Physics and Courant Institute. Sreenivasan is also Senior Vice Provost for Science and Technology for the Global Network University at NYU and Provost of Polytechnic Institute of NYU.

New York University

Related Plasma Current Events and Plasma News Articles

Magnets for fusion energy: A revolutionary manufacturing method developed
The National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS), of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) in Japan, has achieved an electrical current of 100,000 amperes, which is by far the highest in the world, by using the new idea of assembling the state-of-the-art yttrium-based high-temperature superconducting tapes to fabricate a large-scale magnet conductor.

1 in 3000 blood donors in England infected with hepatitis E
The first systematic analysis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) transmission by blood components indicates that about 1 in 3000 donors in England have HEV in their plasma.

Nicotine found to inhibit DNA-strand break caused by a certain carcinogen in smoke
A new in vitro study has revealed that nicotine and cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, can potentially inhibit DNA damage caused by a certain carcinogen in smoke.

Communication between nostril/skin microbiome bacteria can influence pathogen behavior
A team of scientists has made an important discovery about the molecular interactions that occur between generally benign species of Propionibacterium bacteria and the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of most "staph" infections.

MIPT-based researcher models Titan's atmosphere
A researcher from MIPT, Prof. Vladimir Krasnopolsky, who heads the Laboratory of High Resolution Infrared Spectroscopy of Planetary Atmospheres, has published the results of the comparison of his model of Titan's atmosphere with the latest data.

University of Houston researchers create new method to draw molecules from live cells
University of Houston researchers have devised a new method for extracting molecules from live cells without disrupting cell development, work that could provide new avenues for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

Aqueous Two-Phase Systems Enable Multiplexing Of Homogeneous Immunoassays
A new protein biomarker test platform developed by researchers at the University of Michigan and Indiana University promises to improve diagnostic testing.

Researchers find organic pollutants not factor in turtle tumor disease
For nearly four decades, scientists have suspected that persistent organic pollutants (POPs) contributed to a green turtle's susceptibility to the virus that causes fibropapilomatosis (FP), a disease that forms large benign tumors that can inhibit the animal's sight, mobility and feeding ability.

Hubble Spots Spiral Bridge of Young Stars Linking Two Ancient Galaxies
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed an unusual structure 100,000 light years long, which resembles a corkscrew-shaped string of pearls and winds around the cores of two colliding galaxies.

UI researchers find early predictor for preeclampsia
University of Iowa researchers have discovered a biomarker that could give expecting mothers and their doctors the first simple blood test to reliably predict that a pregnant woman may develop preeclampsia, at least as early as 6 weeks into the pregnancy.
More Plasma Current Events and Plasma News Articles

Plasma Engineering: Applications from Aerospace to Bio and Nanotechnology

Plasma Engineering: Applications from Aerospace to Bio and Nanotechnology
by Michael Keidar (Author), Isak Beilis (Author)

Plasma engineering applies the unique properties of plasmas (ionized gases) to improve processes and performance over many fields, such as materials processing, spacecraft propulsion, and nanofabrication. Plasma Engineering considers this rapidly expanding discipline from a unified standpoint, addressing fundamentals of physics and modeling as well as new real-word applications in aerospace, nanotechnology, and bioengineering. The book starts by reviewing plasma particle collisions, waves, and instabilities, and proceeds to diagnostic tools, such as planar, spherical, and emissive probes, and the electrostatic analyzer, interferometric technique, and plasma spectroscopy. The physics of different types of electrical discharges are considered, including the classical Townsend mechanism of...

Plasma Physics (Dover Books on Physics)

Plasma Physics (Dover Books on Physics)
by James E. Drummond (Author)

A historic snapshot of the field of plasma physics, this fifty-year-old volume offers an edited collection of papers by pioneering experts in the field. In addition to assisting students in their understanding of the foundations of classical plasma physics, it provides a source of historic context for modern physicists. Highly successful upon its initial publication, this book was the standard text on plasma physics throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Hailed by Science magazine as a "well executed venture," the three-part treatment ranges from basic plasma theory to magnetohydrodynamics and microwave plasma physics. Highlights include Klimontovich's article on quantum plasmas, Buneman's writings on how to distinguish between attenuating and amplifying waves, and Yoler's clear and cogent...

Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion. Volume 1, Plasma physics

Introduction to plasma physics and controlled fusion. Volume 1, Plasma physics
by Francis F. Chen (Author)

TO THE SECOND EDITION In the nine years since this book was first written, rapid progress has been made scientifically in nuclear fusion, space physics, and nonlinear plasma theory. At the same time, the energy shortage on the one hand and the exploration of Jupiter and Saturn on the other have increased the national awareness of the important applications of plasma physics to energy production and to the understanding of our space environment. In magnetic confinement fusion, this period has seen the attainment 13 of a Lawson number nTE of 2 x 10 cm -3 sec in the Alcator tokamaks at MIT; neutral-beam heating of the PL T tokamak at Princeton to KTi = 6. 5 keV; increase of average ß to 3%-5% in tokamaks at Oak Ridge and General Atomic; and the stabilization of mirror-confined plasmas at...

Plasma Physics and Engineering, Second Edition

Plasma Physics and Engineering, Second Edition
by Alexander Fridman (Author), Lawrence A. Kennedy (Author)

Plasma plays an important role in a wide variety of industrial processes, including material processing, environmental control, electronic chip manufacturing, light sources, and green energy, not to mention fuel conversion and hydrogen production, biomedicine, flow control, catalysis, and space propulsion. Following the general outline of the bestselling first edition, Plasma Physics and Engineering, Second Edition provides a clear fundamental introduction to all aspects of the modern field. Reflecting recent scientific and technological developments, this resource will be useful to engineers, scientists, and students working with the physics, engineering, chemistry, and combustion of plasma, as well as chemical physics, lasers, electronics, new methods of material treatment, fuel...

Plasma Physics: An Introductory Course

Plasma Physics: An Introductory Course
by R. O. Dendy (Editor)

This book covers the subject of plasma physics. The first few chapters deal with the fundamentals of plasma physics. Subsequently, the applications and properties of human-made and naturally occurring plasmas are discussed. In addition, there are chapters devoted to general phenomena, such as turbulence and chaos. The computational techniques employed in modeling plasma behavior are also described.

Fundamentals of Plasma Physics

Fundamentals of Plasma Physics
by Paul M. Bellan (Author)

This rigorous explanation of plasmas is relevant to diverse plasma applications such as controlled fusion, astrophysical plasmas, solar physics, magnetospheric plasmas, and plasma thrusters. More thorough than previous texts, it exploits new powerful mathematical techniques to develop deeper insights into plasma behavior. After developing the basic plasma equations from first principles, the book explores single particle motion with particular attention to adiabatic invariance. The author then examines types of plasma waves and the issue of Landau damping. Magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium and stability are tackled with emphasis on the topological concepts of magnetic helicity and self-organization. Advanced topics follow, including magnetic reconnection, nonlinear waves, and the...

Plasma Medicine: Applications of Low-Temperature Gas Plasmas in Medicine and Biology

Plasma Medicine: Applications of Low-Temperature Gas Plasmas in Medicine and Biology
by M. Laroussi (Editor), M. G. Kong (Editor), G. Morfill (Editor), W. Stolz (Editor)

The introduction of low temperature plasma technology to medical research and to the healthcare arena in general is set to revolutionise the way we cure diseases. This innovative medium offers a valid and advantageous replacement of traditional chemical-based medications. Its application in the inactivation of pathogens in particular, avoids the recurrent problem of drug resistant microorganisms. This is the first book dedicated exclusively to the emerging interdisciplinary field of plasma medicine. The opening chapters discuss plasmas and plasma chemistry, the fundamentals of non-equilibrium plasmas and cell biology. The rest of the book is dedicated to current applications, illustrating a plasma-based approach to wound healing, electrosurgery, cancer treatment and even dentistry. The...

The Plasma Master

The Plasma Master

Nedward Simmons is living a regular Earth life when he stumbles across an artifact from an alien civilization. Its protective powers are more intriguing than useful to him, until the aliens themselves arrive. Unable to hand over the power he has unwittingly acquired, Ned decides instead to travel with them in an attempt to defeat the Anacron army, which threatens their freedom. But Ned soon learns that his Plasma Crystal is not the only source of mysterious power in the galaxy. Ned and his comrades must deal with a vast space armada, enemy Plasma Masters, and even a monster or two as they search for a way to penetrate the enemy fortress of Venom and restore peace to their empire.

Plasma Frequency Magazine: Issue 12: June/July 2014

Plasma Frequency Magazine: Issue 12: June/July 2014
by Plasma Spyglass Press

Plasma Frequency is a bi-monthly speculative fiction magazine based in the United States. With short stories from just a few hundred words to 7,000 words, our issues are packed with great content. In this issue we have 7 short stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Cover art: Cover art: “Loving Queen Titania” by Tais Teng

Plasma Frequency Magazine: Issue 12: June/July 2014 (Volume 12)

Plasma Frequency Magazine: Issue 12: June/July 2014 (Volume 12)
by Arley Sorg (Author), Rachel Kolar (Author), Rebacca Roland (Author), Lindsey Duncan (Author), JS Watts (Author), John H. Dromey (Author), Ian Rose (Author), Richard Flores IV (Editor)

Plasma Frequency is a bi-monthly speculative fiction magazine based in the United States. With short stories from just a few hundred words to 7,000 words, our issues are packed with great content. In this issue we have 7 short stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Cover art: Cover art: “Loving Queen Titania” by Tais Teng

© 2014