8 thoughts on “Glimpse Into Sun Befuddles Theorists

  1. Robin Linhope Willson

    Thank you for a most interesting article.
    The fact that existing models of the sun´s magnetic field may need to be changed does not amaze me one bit.
    Your sentence "The Sun’s magnetic field is like a bar magnet, — " illustrates the difficulty in desribing magnetic fields let alone understanding them.
    I fear much of physics has progressed little in this respect from the days of iron filings and bar magnets which Farday and Maxwell found so intriguing.
    The shape of magnetic fields produced by bar magnets are not representative of magnetic fields in general.Yet how many schools world wide go beyond them. How many have ever experimented with ceramic block magnets and ferromagnetic discs in the form of real magnetic coins. I have not yet come across anyone, physicist or scientists in general, who has not been amazed by what has recently been achieved. see
    "Investigating Magnetism", by Willson, Riley and Harris, available for download with associated images at http://www.magicpenny.org.

  2. Frank ReedFrank Reed

    RLW wrote: "The shape of magnetic fields produced by bar magnets are not representative of magnetic fields in general.Yet how many schools world wide go beyond them. "

    How many? From my own experience with physics curricula, I would estimate that 99% or more of college/university physics programs worldwide go beyond the "bar magnet" representation of magnetic fields, and about 80% or more of secondary (high school) physics classes go beyond the bar magnet. So the short answer is "nearly ALL". Of course, the general structure of the magnetic field of a bar magnet, or better yet, a closed loop of current, is an important starting point: a zero-th order approximation to nearly every magnetic field in Nature. The issue for solar magnetic field modelling has far less to do with any imprecise knowledge of magnetic fields themselves and much more to do with our very high ignorance of the convective and other large-scale motions within the Sun –EXACTLY as explained in the article.

  3. Anthony BarreiroAnthony Barreiro

    This is a very interesting report of an important finding. I do public outreach, including showing people the Sun through a small hydrogen-alpha telescope. I try to explain why we see prominences, sunspots, etc., in terms of the Sun’s magnetic field lines. I will try to remember to tell folks that there’s a lot we don’t understand, and astronomers are learning more about the Sun through new instruments like SDO.

  4. Hilton Long

    Would have been nice if the article had said a little more about the source of the acoustics how "sound waves" are observed when in a vacuum.

  5. Joe S.

    SDO and even more so its predecessor SOHO study the surface waves on the Sun. These are acoustic waves in the solar plasma. The waves can be detected by looking at the Doppler shift of the light emitted from the glowing plasma.

  6. Rod

    Is this report an indication that the Sun’s core and interior is not as dense or hot as stellar evolution requires? The current solar interior model is developed based upon radiometric ages of meteorites and not hydrogen burn rates. This is what determines the Sun’s current plot on the H-R diagram.

  7. Don Bennett

    Very interesting article but the "elderly" comment doesn’t belong in a science blog. Go to a more appropriate place than the S&T blog to voice your material.

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