NASA scientists who chase eclipses contribute to the understanding of solar winds.
According to NASA research, solar eclipses have helped scientists discover “unexpected” results about solar winds and the Sun’s corona – our host star’s outer atmosphere.
A 14-year investigation that saw scientists travel around the world in search of solar eclipses yielded some startling results. During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun’s light, turning day into night for a brief period of time.
During an eclipse, however, the corona, or outer edge of the Sun’s atmosphere, is visible.
Solar winds, which are a constant stream of particles flowing from our host star, are produced by the corona.
Scientists employ coronographs to simulate eclipses, but they aren’t quite as accurate as the actual thing.
Instead, scientists traveled around the world to observe solar eclipses, which occur every 18 to 2 years, and collect real-time data.
A team of NASA scientists was able to measure the temperatures of particles from the innermost portion of the corona, which are the generators of the solar wind, using special eclipse cameras.
They discovered that the temperature of the corona remains constant during various solar cycles, including the solar maximum and low.
The Sun has an 11-year cycle that is well-known but poorly understood.
The so-called solar maximum and solar minimum are created when activity rises and declines.
The Sun is more powerful and covered in sunspots at a solar maximum.
When the Sun hits a solar minimum, though, the radiation from our host star begins to diminish gradually.
This is why, according to a research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, experts were shocked to find that the corona’s temperature remained rather constant throughout.
“The temperature at the sources of the solar wind in the corona is essentially constant throughout a solar cycle,” said Shadia Habbal, a solar researcher at the University of Hawaii who led the study.
“This discovery is surprising because coronal structures are influenced by variations in the distribution of magnetized plasmas in the corona, which varies dramatically over the course of the 11-year magnetic solar cycle.”
“That suggests whatever is heating the majority of the corona and solar wind is not really dependent on the Sun’s activity cycle,” Benjamin Boe, a solar researcher at the University of Hawaii who was involved in the new research, stated.
According to Dr. Habbal, this has now raised a new question.
“So now the question is, what processes?” she asked, according to Brinkwire Summary News.