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

Personalized drug screening on horizon for multiple myeloma patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.

Electric fields remove nanoparticles from blood with ease
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a new technology that uses an oscillating electric field to easily and quickly isolate drug-delivery nanoparticles from blood.

Possible new mechanism for aspirin's role in cancer prevention
Aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and possibly other cancers.

Radiation blasts leave most Earth-like planet uninhabitable, new research suggests
The most Earth-like planet could have been made uninhabitable by vast quantities of radiation, new research led by the University of Warwick research has found.

Navy researchers recruit luminescent nanoparticles to image brain function
Research biologists, chemists and theoreticians at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), are on pace to develop the next generation of functional materials that could enable the mapping of the complex neural connections in the brain.

Accelerating fusion research through the cutting edge supercomputer
At the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation National Institutes of Natural Sciences National Institute for Fusion Science, for the first time in the world, using the newly installed "Plasma Simulator" we have simulated deuterium plasma turbulence in the Large Helical Device (LHD).

Discovery of a new confinement state for plasma
The National Institutes of Natural Sciences National Institute for Fusion Science applied the "Momentary Heating Propagation Method" to the DIII-D tokamak device operated for the United States Office of Science, Department of Energy, by the General Atomics and made the important discovery of a new plasma confinement state.

Mixing an icy cocktail to safely cool hot plasma
A shot of icy chemical cocktail - that's the promising solution to controlling hot plasmas in fusion devices, researchers say.

New Super H-mode regime could greatly increase fusion power
Meet "Super H mode," a newly discovered state of tokamak plasma that could sharply boost the performance of future fusion reactors.

Made to order: Researchers discover a new form of crystalline matter
Dust is everywhere: under the bed, on the stairs and even inside of plasmas. A team of researchers from Auburn University, the University of Iowa and the University of California, San Diego, using the new Magnetized Dusty Plasma Experiment (MDPX), the first U.S. experiment of its kind, recently discovered a new form of crystalline-like matter in strongly magnetized dusty plasma.
More Plasma Current Events and Plasma News Articles

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...

Plasma Physics: An Introduction

Plasma Physics: An Introduction
by Richard Fitzpatrick (Author)

Encompasses the Lectured Works of a Renowned Expert in the Field Plasma Physics: An Introduction is based on a series of university course lectures by a leading name in the field, and thoroughly covers the physics of the fourth state of matter. This book looks at non-relativistic, fully ionized, nondegenerate, quasi-neutral, and weakly coupled plasma. Intended for the student market, the text provides a concise and cohesive introduction to plasma physics theory, and offers a solid foundation for students wishing to take higher level courses in plasma physics. Mathematically Rigorous, but Driven by Physics This work contains over 80 exercises―carefully selected for their pedagogical value―with fully worked out solutions available in a separate solutions manual for professors. The...

Plasma At Work

Plasma At Work
by George A Sites (Author)

Description: THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK IS TO INTRODUCE THE READER TO MANY OF THE APPLICATIONS OF THE PLASMA ARC. THE APPLICATIONS ARE ALMOST ENDLESS AND IT IS ONE OF THE EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES OF TOMORROW. Synopsis: According to Geoplasma, Municipal Waste Disposal is one of the most pressing environmental problems of the 21st centruy. According to the United States EPA, over 245 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) were generated in the United States in 2005. Population growth has consequently resulted in a significant increase in Municipal waste for disposal. Simultaneously, there has been increased pressure on business and civic leaders for better land use, environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Plasma Arc processing of waste materials is an innovative solution. It...

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 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 Antenna: Experimental Studies on Plasma Antennas

Plasma Antenna: Experimental Studies on Plasma Antennas
by Rajneesh Kumar (Author)

Recently, there has been a revival of interest in plasma antennas because of their potential advantage over the conventional antennas. Hence experiments are aimed at investigating the antenna properties of a reconfigurable plasma antenna. Plasma column is excited by surface wave, which acts as a plasma antenna. Antenna parameters of plasma antenna and equivalent metallic copper antenna are studied. By changing the operating parameters a single plasma antenna (plasma column) can be transformed into multiple antenna elements (striations), which can be treated as a phased array broadside vertical plasma antenna. In addition, physical and antenna properties of reconfigurable plasma antenna can be controlled by operating parameters. Moreover wireless communication capability of this plasma...

Plasma Assisted Combustion, Gasification, and Pollution Control: Volume 1. Methods of Plasma Generation for Pac

Plasma Assisted Combustion, Gasification, and Pollution Control: Volume 1. Methods of Plasma Generation for Pac
by Igor Matveev (Author)

This book appearance is a logical development of the research activity in a relatively new field named Plasma Assisted Combustion (PAC) and is the first attempt to collect the most valuable contributions to the field from different research groups all over the globe. The first practical applications of different plasma sources for ignition and combustion enhancement date back to the 1960s and 1970s. The first PAC conference was organized by the Editor in 1989 in the former Soviet Union. At this time, the PAC community is relatively well organized with an annual International Workshop and Exhibition on Plasma Assisted Combustion (IWEPAC), now converted into the International Conference on Plasma Assisted Technologies or ICPAT starting in 2012, and special issues in the IEEE Transactions on...

Fundamentals of Plasma Physics

Fundamentals of Plasma Physics
by J. A. Bittencourt (Author)

Fundamentals of Plasma Physics is a general introduction designed to present a comprehensive, logical and unified treatment of the fundamentals of plasma physics based on statistical kinetic theory, with applications to a variety of important plasma phenomena. Its clarity and completeness makes the text suitable for self-learning and for self-paced courses. Throughout the text the emphasis is on clarity, rather than formality, the various derivations are explained in detail and, wherever possible, the physical interpretations are emphasized. The mathematical treatment is set out in great detail, carrying out the steps which are usually left to the reader. The problems form an integral part of the text and most of them were designed in such a way as to provide a guideline, stating...

The Plasma of Terror

The Plasma of Terror
by St. Genevieve Press

September 2001: a Moroccan cameraman on an American reality TV show in Paris is murdered on the Rue du Bac. In Los Angeles, a poli sci professor and a renegade diplomat learn of the sub rosa murder and begin to puzzle over whether the crime is related to the tragic events of 9/11. Too suspicious of their own government to approach it for help or even for basic information, they rearrange their lives around their pursuit of the truth of this unpublicized murder--which may have political importance or may mean nothing at all. Unfolding at the chaotic media intersection of political paranoia and pop culture, The Plasma of Terror has been called groundbreaking, politically illuminating, heartbreaking.

© 2015