Indian-led NASA team finds out what heats 'algae' on the Sun progressive

Washington: NASA in its latest study led by an Indian astronomer claims to have discovered what makes the solar corona, the outermost peripheral part of the Sun's atmosphere, extremely hot.

Any changes in the solar corona can affect space weather and, subsequently, activities on Earth. Therefore, solar physicists have been engaged in understanding the structure and behavior of the corona for many decades. The most common features displayed by the solar corona are loops, streams, plumes, and ejections.

Similar to the green and grassy algal mosses growing on wet rock formations near bodies of water, the Sun also has patchy moss-like structures formed from plasma in the solar atmosphere. Under strong magnetic conditions, this moss grows and blooms around the center of a sunspot cluster. The moss-like structure is primarily caused by chromospheric jets or 'spicules' associated with highly ultraviolet emitting elements.

The Kai region is associated with the Sun's lower atmosphere and temperatures here can reach up to 5.5 million degrees Celsius, 100 times hotter than the layer immediately below. This mystery that has lasted for more than 25 years has been partially addressed in NASA's latest study.

NASA scientists used solar observations obtained from two of its missions – the High-Resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) sounding rocket and the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) – to decode the superheating mechanism.

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