The high-frequency waves orbiting the sun have left scientists baffled, as unexpected bursts of energy move at speeds that defy explanation.
A team from New York University’s Abu Dhabi Space Science Center analyzed 25 years of space and terrestrial observations of energy waves from our host star.
And they discovered a new set of waves moving in the opposite direction of the Sun’s rotation, and inexplicably traveling faster than was theoretically possible.
These waves appear as a pattern of vortices, in a circular motion, on the surface of the Sun and move three times as fast as other types of waves on the star.
Known as high-frequency retrograde waves (HFR), they provide an unprecedented view of the inner workings of a star and could one day lead to new kinds of physics, as follow-up studies try to explain how they can be so fast.
The interior of the Sun, like other stars of its kind, cannot be imaged by conventional astronomy, be it optical, X-ray or infrared techniques.
This means that scientists must rely on interpreting the surface signatures of a variety of light waves, in order to understand what is happening at depth.
These new high-frequency feedback waves, named because of their opposite direction, may be an important puzzle piece in our understanding of stars.
The team predicted that complex interactions between other known waves and magnetism, gravitational or convection could drive HFR waves at an unexpected speed.
Co-author and study author Chris Hanson, of New York University, said: ‘If the HFRs could be attributed to any of these three processes, the result would have answered some of the open questions we still have about the Sun. However, it does not appear that These new waves were a result of these processes, and that’s exciting because it leads to a whole new set of questions.”
By studying the internal dynamics of the Sun – through the use of waves – scientists can better estimate its potential impact on Earth and other planets.
With the Sun, the study of these waves has been used to understand more about their internal rotation and structure – which would be impossible using direct observation techniques.
However, sound waves are insensitive to things like magnetic fields, entropy and convection – which are essential to theories of solar dynamics.
To fill in the gap, the new team used solar earthquake and correlation tracing analyzes of terrestrial and space-based observations to look at other types of waves within the star.
“We were able to detect asymmetric, backward-scattering equatorial vortex waves at three times the phase velocities of Rossby-Horowitz waves of the same wave number,” the researchers wrote.
This refers to a new type of wave that rotates in the opposite direction to the rotation of the Sun, and moves three times faster than other types of waves.
The team explained that this cannot be explained by standard hydrodynamic mechanisms, noting that the new physics may play a role in the rare condensed interiors of stars like our sun.
The as yet undefined nature of these waves promises new physics and new insight into solar dynamics.
The team says that it has proven difficult to locate HFR within the broader context of solar dynamics, as it is unlikely to belong to the set of features that typically arise in standard theories. And the sun is not the only place where these types of waves have been seen, as a study 30 years ago found unexplained high-frequency waves in the Earth’s ocean.
This phenomenon continues to confuse atmospheric scientists three decades later, despite great efforts to explain it.
The results were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Source: Daily Mail
“Proud explorer. Freelance social media expert. Problem solver. Gamer. Extreme travel aficionado.”