The Sun - Largest string music ensemble in the Solar System

Do you know we can hear the Sun? Scientists have recorded the musical sounds created by longitudinal vibrations within the Sun's atmosphere. Dr. Robertus Erdelyi, from University of Sheffield (UK), explains.


In 2010, solar physicists at the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Center of the School of Mathematics and Statistics (University of Sheffield) managed to record for the first time the musical harmonies generated by the solar magnetic fields in the outer parts of the solar atmosphere.


The video shows giant magnetic coronal loops, which are responsible for huge atmospheric explosions that occur in the atmosphere, known as solar flares. The loops undergo periodic (oscillatory) motion, creating the 'music,' which can be thought of as someone plucking a guitar string.

Solar magnetic field lines form huge magnetic tubes known as coronal loops. These loops look like elastic hose pipes. When solar explosions, in the form of e.g. flares, pluck the field lines, they vibrate like strings - just like when a piano string is hit by a key. The frequency of these magnetic vibrations is accelerated to the frequencies of the human ears to be audible. An example of a large, ~100 Mm long (that is, 100000 km) magnetic loop that generates sound waves can be heard in the video below.

The European Solar Telescope (EST) with its superb spatial and temporal resolution will detect much-much smaller loops (still the size of the Earth!) with much higher frequencies that are ubiquitous in the lower solar atmosphere. Therefore, it is believed that just above the surface of the sun, in its chromosphere, there are thousands and thousands of such small ensambles of magnetic strings that continuously vibrate and emit "solar music". Therefore, the sun may possess the largest musical assembly in the entire solar system, and we just need EST to hear this music!

Credits: University of Sheffield


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