Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking

Date:
May 28, 1998
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
Scientists have shown for the first time that solar flares produce seismic waves in the Sun's interior that resemble those created by earthquakes: They observed a flare-generated solar quake that contained about 40,000 times the energy released in the great 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco.

Scientists have shown for the first time that solar flares produceseismic waves in the Sun's interior that resemble those created byearthquakes: They observed a flare-generated solar quake that containedabout 40,000 times the energy released in the great 1906 earthquake thatdevastated San Francisco. (The amount of energy released was enough topower the United States for 20 years at its current level of consumption,and was equivalent to an 11.3 magnitude earthquake.)

Dr. Alexander G. Kosovichev, a senior research scientist from Stanford University, and Dr. Valentina V. Zharkova from Glasgow (United Kingdom) University found the tell-tale seismic signature in data on the Sun's surface. The data were collected by the Michelson Doppler Imager onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft immediately following a moderate-sized flare on July 9, 1996.

"Although the flare was a moderate one, it still released an immense amount of energy," said Dr. Craig Deforest, a researcher with the SOHO project. "The energy released is equal to completely covering the Earth's continents with a yard of dynamite and detonating it all at once."

SOHO is a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA. The finding is reported in the May 28 issue of the journal Nature, and will be thesubject of a press conference at the spring meeting of the American GeophysicalUnion in Boston, MA, May 27 at 9 a.m. EDT.

The solar quake that the science team recorded looks much like ripples spreading from a rock dropped into a pool of water. But over the course of an hour, the solar waves traveled for a distance equal to 10 Earth diameters before fading into the fiery background of the Sun's photosphere. Unlike water ripples that travel outward at a constant velocity, the solar waves accelerated from an initial speed of 22,000 miles per hour to a maximum of 250,000 miles per hour before disappearing.

"People have looked for evidence of seismic waves from flares before, but they didn't have a theory so they didn't know where to look," says Kosovichev.

Several years ago Kosovichev and Zharkova developed a theory that can explain how a flare, which explodes in space above the Sun's surface, can generate a major seismic wave in the Sun's interior. According to thecurrently accepted model of solar flares, the primary explosion createshigh-energy electrons (electrically charged subatomic particles). These arefunneled down into a magnetic flux tube, an invisible tube of magnetic energy,and produce X-rays, microwaves and a shock wave that heats the solar surface.Kosovichev and Zharkova developed a theory that predicts the nature andmagnitude of the shock waves that this beam of energetic electrons shouldcreate when they slam down into the solar atmosphere.

Although their theory directed them to the right area to search for the seismic waves, the waves that they found were 10 times stronger than they had predicted. "They were so strong that you can see them in the raw data," Kosovichev says.

The solar seismic waves appear to be compression waves like the "P" waves generated by an earthquake. They travel throughout the Sun's interior. Infact, the waves should recombine on the opposite side of the Sun from thelocation of the flare to create a faint duplicate of the original ripplepattern, Kosovichev predicts.

Now that they know how to find them, the SOHO scientists say that the seismic waves generated by solar flares should allow them to verify independently some of the conditions in the solar interior that they have inferred fromstudying the pattern of waves that are continually ruffling the Sun's surface.

SOHO is part of the International Solar-Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program, a global effort to observe and understand our star and its effects on our environment. The ISTP mission includes more than 20 satellites, coupled with ground-based observatories and modeling centers, that allow scientists to study the Sun, the Earth, and the space between them in unprecedented detail. ISTP is a joint program of NASA, ESA, Japan's Institute for Astronautical Science, and Russia's Space Research Institute.

Still images of the solar quake can be found at the following internet address:

FTP://PAO.GSFC.NASA.GOV/newsmedia/QUAKE/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980528081440.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (1998, May 28). Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980528081440.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/05/980528081440.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Newsy (Sep. 25, 2014) — Scientists have discovered traces of water in the atmosphere of a distant, Neptune-sized planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins