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The discovery of mysterious vortex waves in the sun

The discovery of mysterious vortex waves in the sun

Researchers from New York University Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) Space Science Center have discovered a new set of waves in the Sun that appear to be traveling unexpectedly much faster than theoretically expected.

In the study, The discovery of high-frequency retrograde vortex waves in the sunPublished in the magazine natural astronomyThe researchers — led by Research Associate Chris S Hanson — detailed how they analyzed 25 years of space and Earth data to detect these waves. High-frequency retrograde (HFR) waves – which travel in the opposite direction of the Sun’s rotation – appear as a vortex pattern (vortex movements) on the Sun’s surface and move at three times the speed specified by current theory.

The interior of the Sun and stars cannot be imaged by conventional astronomy (such as optics, X-rays, etc.), and scientists rely on interpreting the surface signatures of a variety of waves to image the interior. These new HFRs may be an important puzzle piece in our understanding of stars.

Complex interactions between known waves and magnetic, gravitational, or convective waves could drive HFR waves so quickly. “If the HFRs could be attributed to any of these three processes, the discovery would have answered some of the open questions we still have about the Sun,” Hanson said. “However, it does not appear that these new waves were a result of these processes, which is exciting because it leads to a whole new set of questions.”

This research was conducted at the NYU Abu Dhabi Space Science Center in collaboration with the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and[{” attribute=””>New York University, using NYUAD and TIFR’s computational resources. By studying the Sun’s interior dynamics — through the use of waves — scientists can better appreciate the Sun’s potential impact on the Earth and other planets in our solar system.

“The very existence of HFR modes and their origin is a true mystery and may allude to exciting physics at play,” said Shravan Hanasoge, a co-author of the paper. “It has the potential to shed insight on the otherwise unobservable interior of the Sun.”

Reference: “Discovery of high-frequency-retrograde vorticity waves in the Sun” 24 March 2022, Nature Astronomy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-022-01632-z

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