baudrunner's space: The sun is not a giant gas ball
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Friday, January 18, 2008

The sun is not a giant gas ball

Over the last few years the vast amount of data that is being gathered by satellites which are designed to study the sun has forced the scientific community to rethink the standard model on which the sun's nature and composition are based. It appears that the old notion that the sun is a giant ball of gas whose surface is alive with swirls of magnetic flux is basically wrong.

For one thing, sun-spot behaviour does not follow the standard model. It was believed that the darker areas of a sunspot were only so because they had a cooler temperature, but analysis of ocean temperatures which actually increase during high sunspot activity seems to contradict this. Furthermore, more refined measurements of the temperatures in, around and above sunspots confirm that they exceed the temperatures found at similar altitudes in non-active regions.

Images originating from the Stanford-Lockheed Institute for Space Research's TRACE (Transition Region and Coronal Explorer) satellite has resulted in conflicting interpretations out of Lockheed and NASA. They do not agree on the meaning of the content of those images.

Results from the SOT Optical telescope, Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), and the X-Ray Telescope (XRT), all aboard the Hinode (formerly Solar-B) satellite appear to prove that plasma events on the sun are not purely magnetic events and in fact are electrically driven events. Images and measurements taken of coronal loops show that they are sourced by electric current, not magnetic current.

The RHESSI (Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager) satellite has detected massive gamma discharges from the sun's solar flares. When pointed toward the earth, the satellite detects gamma discharges occurring during electrical storm activity in our atmosphere.

The Yohkoh (Japanese for 'sunbeam') satellite, a project of the Institute for Space and Astronautical Sciences in Japan produces images which exactly mirror those produced by Dr. Kristian Birkeland in his laboratory in the early 1900's during his experiments with an electromagnetic cathode sphere.

Readings across the spectrum from those satellites and others suggest that the sun's surface consists of a massive iron mantle surrounded by a sea of plasma. The actual temperature at the iron surface of the sun is between 1500° and 2000° Kelvin, hot but not necessarily hot enough to melt iron. In fact, iron has maintained a solid state at temperatures above 5100° Kelvin on earth. The atmosphere of the sun from upper photosphere to the surface is about 4800 km deep. The outer photosphere consists of a neon plasma layer about 400-500 km in depth at about 5700° Kelvin. Under that is a silicon plasma layer about 3000 km in depth at from 2500° Kelvin at the bottom to about 4500° Kelvin at the top. Under that is a very dense calcium plasma layer, much cooler, ranging from 1500° to 2500° Kelvin. The atmosphere is hottest at the outer layers of the neon photosphere and coolest at the surface. The iron mantle is not consistent and varies in density, much like the iron found in the earth's crust, which can take subtly different forms, depending on density. There even appear fissures in the sun's mantle, which are regions of extreme violent electrical activity.

This TRACE image of a region on the sun's surface reveals a crater which maintains its structure around a lot of liquid-like plasma activity.

a crater on the sun's surface

We can only assume that the old model holds true for the center of the sun, where no doubt violent nuclear reactions are taking place. A more complete analysis and a peer-review paper as well as some phenomenal satellite images of the sun which support the new model can be found at this website, titled The Surface of The Sun, by Michael Mozina et al.

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