Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sun's Magnetic Field Has A Good Memory

Date:
February 2, 2000
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
By compiling all the solar wind data gathered in the space age, NASA scientists have concluded that even though the solar magnetic field is constantly changing, it always returns to its original shape and position.

By compiling all the solar wind data gathered in the space age, NASA scientists have concluded that even though the solar magnetic field is constantly changing, it always returns to its original shape and position.

Related Articles


"We now know that the Sun's magnetic field has a memory and returns to approximately the same configuration in each 11- year solar cycle," said Dr. Marcia Neugebauer, a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Current theories imply that the field is generated by random, churning motions within the Sun and should have no long- term memory. Despite this expectation, the underlying magnetic structure remains fixed at the same solar longitude."

"It's interesting that the solar magnetic field varies in strength and direction, but not in longitude," said Dr. Edward Smith, senior research scientist at JPL.

The solar wind is composed of charged particles ejected from the Sun that flow continuously through interplanetary space. The solar wind carries part of the Sun's magnetic field into space. Before completing this research, scientists knew that features of the solar wind reaching the Earth tended to repeat about every 27 days, said Neugebauer. The new information pinpoints the repetition interval at 27 days and 43 minutes and shows that the Sun has kept this steady rhythm, much like a metronome, for at least 38 years.

This pattern escaped previous detection because it is a very subtle statistical effect. There are many larger variations in the solar wind that come and go, which largely mask the underlying pattern. This repetitive behavior can't be seen if these data are examined for only a few months or years, but it was revealed in this 38-year database.

"Why the Sun's magnetic field behaves in this way is a puzzle, but the answer must lie deep within the Sun," Smith said.

"We're trying to understand how magnetic fields are generated in the Sun, the planets and the stars," said Neugebauer. "A better understanding of how the Sun generates its magnetic field will help us better understand the solar wind and space weather."

Fluids conducting electricity under the Sun's surface generate the magnetic field, Neugebauer explained, and the field's apparent memory is most likely caused by a structure and process occurring deeper inside the Sun than previously believed. "There may be something asymmetric about the Sun's interior, perhaps a deep-seated lump of old magnetic field," she said.

The findings, published in the February 1 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, are based on all the solar wind data collected from the dawn of space exploration through 1998, both by Earth-orbiting satellites and interplanetary spacecraft. This includes about 335,000 hours of solar wind speed data and 250,000 hours of magnetic field data. Co-authors of the article, in addition to Neugebauer and Smith, are Drs. Alexander Ruzmaikin, Joan Feynman and Arthur Vaughn, all of JPL.

Additional information is available at:

http://spacephysics.jpl.nasa.gov/pr/longitude.htm

This study was funded under the Supporting Research Program of NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a NASA center managed by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Sun's Magnetic Field Has A Good Memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000202080620.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2000, February 2). Sun's Magnetic Field Has A Good Memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000202080620.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Sun's Magnetic Field Has A Good Memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000202080620.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

What NASA Wants To Learn From Its 'Year In Space' Tests

Newsy (Mar. 28, 2015) Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year in space running tests on human physiology and psychology. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Crew Starts One-Year Space Mission

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 28, 2015) Russian-U.S. crew arrives safely at the International Space Station for the start of a ground-breaking year-long stay. Paul Chapman reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) The Asteroid Retrieval Mission announced this week bears little resemblance to its grand beginnings. Even NASA scientists are asking, "Why bother?" Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Space Station Crew Docks Safely

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) NASA TV footage shows the successful docking of a Russian Soyuz craft to the International Space Station for a year-long mission. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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