Sunquakes may be caused by weird beams of electrons from solar flares

Mysterious ripples in the sun’s plasma have gone unexplained for decades, but they may be caused by strange beams of high-energy electrons fired inward by solar flares

Space



2 February 2023

An extensive erupting prominence taken on 15 May, 2001 -- Prominences are huge clouds of relatively cool dense plasma suspended in the Sun's hot, thin corona. At times, they can erupt, escaping the Sun's atmosphere. Emission in this spectral line of EIT 304? shows the upper chromosphere at a temperature of about 60,000 degrees K. The hottest areas appear almost white, while the darker red areas indicate cooler temperatures.

Ropes of plasma can extend from the sun’s hot, thin corona during a solar flare

ESA/NASA/SOHO

We may finally know what causes sunquakes. The cause of these strange rumbles within the sun has divided solar physicists for decades, but a new study has found that they may come from beams of high-energy electrons burrowing through the outer layers of the sun.

Sunquakes are waves in the sun’s photosphere – the surface from which its light shines – that ripple across the star like the waves from a pebble tossed in a lake. They are usually associated with …

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