Gravity Waves in the Magnetized Solar Atmosphere

Dr. Vigeesh Gangadharan, from the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (Germany), writes about the internal gravity waves of the Sun.

The solar disc in the continuum intensity as observed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (space telescope) over a duration of 4 hours

The "bubbling" hot surface of the Sun produces different kinds of waves.  Some of them are also commonly found in Earth's atmosphere, like the internal gravity waves - the waves responsible for creating those fascinating striped bands of clouds that you might have occasionally seen. So, what is special about the internal gravity waves on the Sun?

In the Sun's atmosphere, these waves have to pass through very strong magnetic fields unlike that found in the atmosphere of the Earth. Studying the solar atmosphere gives us a unique peek into the behaviour of internal gravity waves in the presence of magnetic fields. So far, we have only been able to study the interaction of such waves and magnetic fields using computer simulations. With the help of advanced telescopes like the EST, we will be able to look at them in more detail and perhaps discover phenomena more fascinating than the striped clouds.

The movie shows the solar disc in the continuum intensity as observed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (space telescope) over a duration of 4 hours. Zoomed-in view of a small region of approximately 38,000 km x 38,000 km is also shown. The bottom panels show intensity from four different computer simulations of roughly the same area over the same duration. The four simulations have different total magnetic flux and the green regions show the location of strong magnetic fields of around 1000 Gauss.




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