Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















Lockheed Martin Hinode Findings Explain What Powers The Solar Wind

This image is from a computer simulation of the Sun's atmosphere illustrating how the Alfven waves travel from the chromosphere (the region sandwiched between the surface of the Sun and its hot atmosphere the corona) into the corona. The red lines are magnetic field lines that are shaken by Alfven waves as they propagate upwards from the surface of the Sun. The coloring of the gas in the lower part of the box show the photosphere (green at bottom), chromosphere (chromosphere) and transition region (green and blue). Simulations such as these indicate that jostling of magnetic field lines by convective motions and sound waves at the surface and lower atmosphere of the Sun generates Alfven waves with properties, such as amplitude and frequency, similar to those we observe with Hinode. This image is courtesy of Mats Carlsson, Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, Norway. View the animation that this image is taken from.
by Staff Writers
Palo Alto CA (SPX) Dec 12, 2007
In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers -- from the Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL) of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC), along with colleagues at other institutions in Colorado, Norway and Japan -- have described new observations from NASA's Focal Plane Package for the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) on the Japanese Hinode satellite that provide further insight into the mechanisms that generate the solar wind.

For years, many solar physicists have believed that Alfven waves -- created from convective motions and acoustic energy jostling solar magnetic fields -- were most likely the force powering the solar wind. But before the SOT on Hinode, the resolution of solar instruments was not sufficient to resolve the mystery.

"The high spatial and temporal resolution of SOT -- imaging solar structure just 150 km across every five seconds -- enabled us to resolve, for the first time, the predicted amplitudes of the Alfven waves, as well as some of the dominant spatial and temporal scales of the chromosphere -- the region sandwiched between the solar surface and the sun's atmosphere or corona," said Dr. Bart De Pontieu, a solar physicist at LMSAL who led the research team that produced the results reported in Science.

"We found that the chromosphere is permeated with Alfven waves that are energetic enough to accelerate the solar wind."

It was the behavior of spicules in the sun's chromosphere -- waving from side to side like a field of wheat in a gentle breeze -- which heralded the presence of the elusive Alfven waves in the SOT images. Spicules are jets of gas or plasma propelled upwards from the surface, shooting into the atmosphere at supersonic speeds of 100,000 miles per hour, and reaching heights of 5,000 miles above the solar surface in less than five minutes.

Spicules outline the direction of the sun's magnetic field, so that their oscillations indicate the passage of Alfvenic wave motions. "Most of the Alfven waves we observe have periods of several minutes, much longer than many theoretical models have assumed in the past," said Dr. Scott McIntosh, a solar physicist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Additionally, the team used high fidelity computer simulations to investigate how the waves are generated. "Our simulations imply that it is the bumping and jostling of the magnetic fields in the lower atmosphere that is driving these Alfven waves, which then impart their energy to the solar wind," said Prof. Mats Carlsson of the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, Norway.

These findings, along with several other reports, appear in a special issue of Science that features the latest scientific findings from Hinode, an international mission led by Japan to study the sun's magnetic field and how its explosive energy propagates through the different layers of the solar atmosphere.

Hinode is a collaborative mission among the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Europe, and Japan's National Astronomical Observatory. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center manages science operations and managed the development of the scientific instrumentation provided for the mission by NASA, industry and other federal agencies. Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center is the lead U.S. investigator for the Solar Optical Telescope.

The Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory at the ATC has a 44-year-long heritage of spaceborne solar instruments including the Soft X-ray Telescope on the Japanese Yohkoh satellite, the Michelson Doppler Imager on the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the solar telescope on NASA's Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, the Solar X-ray Imager on the GOES-N environmental satellite, the Focal Plane Package on Hinode, an Extreme Ultraviolet Imager on each of the two spacecraft in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and two instruments on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory slated for launch in 2008.

The laboratory also conducts basic research into understanding and predicting space weather and the behavior of the Sun including its impacts on Earth and climate.

The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC). LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security, civil and commercial customers.

Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; fleet ballistic missiles; and missile defense systems.

Community
Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Closing In On A Hot Solar Science Mystery Story
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Dec 07, 2007
Imagine you are sitting around a campfire. Move closer to the fire, and you get hotter. Move away, and you get cooler. Pretty basic, right? Well, the closest star, our sun, doesn't seem to be getting this. As you move away from the solar surface, into the sun's outer atmosphere, the corona, it actually gets a lot hotter before it cools off. The solar surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures in the corona soar to millions of degrees.







  • Kennedy's Desert RATS
  • Voyager 2 Proves Solar System Is Squashed
  • Quails for lunch aboard Atlantis
  • Richard Branson Trains For Virgin Galactic Spaceflight At The NASTAR Center

  • Building Blocks Of Life Formed On Mars
  • Software Helps Mars Rovers Find Winter Havens
  • Mars Express Watches A Dust Storm Engulf Mars
  • Clues From Antarctica Help With Search For Water On Mars

  • United Launch Alliance Launches 2nd COSMO Satellite
  • Russia Tests Engine For Angara Carrier Rocket
  • ATK Receives Contract And Delivers 100th Orion Solid Rocket Motor
  • Arianespace warns US over Chinese space 'dumping'

  • Outside View: Russia's new sats -- Part 2
  • Use Space Technology And IT For Rural Development
  • Ministerial Summit On Global Earth Observation System Of Systems
  • China, Brazil give Africa free satellite land images

  • The PI's Perspective: Autumn 2007: Onward to the Kuiper Belt
  • Data For The Next Generations
  • Goddard Instrument Makes Cover Of Science
  • Checking Out New Horizons

  • International Team Of Astronomers Releases Detailed Digital Survey Of Milkyway
  • Supercomputer Simulation Of Universe Will Search For Missing Matter
  • NASA Mega-Telescope Gears Up To Study Cosmos
  • Astronomers Find Puzzling Dwarf Star With Complex Magnetic Fields

  • New NASA Mission To Reveal Moon's Internal Structure And Evolution
  • Earth's Magnetic Field Could Help Protect Astronauts Working On The Moon
  • NASA on target for return to the moon by 2020: officials
  • CNSA Publishes 4 Series Of Moon Photos Taken By Chang'e-1

  • Boeing Selected To Help Develop New USAF GPS Ground System
  • Swedish Space Takes Major Role In Galileo Satellite Navigation Project
  • EU rallies Spain to clinch unanimous Galileo deal
  • EU nations 'close' to political agreement on satnav project

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement