The giant ball of gases and flames that powers up our very lives has an atmosphere that shoots all kinds of particles into space. It seems that astrophysicists have encountered something quite interesting inside this very atmosphere, which, while it may seem as a complete mess, actually has some beautiful order.
Through all sorts of tests and analyses they managed to see streamers, blobs and all kinds of puffs that appear in the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere. Until recently, there was not very much known about this structure, which they call the outer corona. Beginning at approximately 1300 miles from the atmosphere, the corona extends on a huge surface of about 10 million miles.
Scientists say that the corona is different from our planet’s atmosphere, having rarefied regions mixed with dense ones. These discrepancies appear due to how the sun’s magnetic field works and until now, that’s almost all we knew about the outer corona.
By using special cameras called coronographs, which are in fact standard visible-light devices that present bits of metal in front in order to block direct sunlight, some individual structures became visible in the corona. This procedure worked by eliminating distractions, such as light from other stars and the results apparently surprised them.
They identified streams of solar wind, called streamers, that measured only 12500 miles. Each of these streamers is apparently made from many smaller strands that look like fibers and they represent the amazing structure that we are talking about. Besides streamers, they found blobs which are small clouds of gas.
These scientists concluded that streamers, puffs and blobs are to be found everywhere in the corona. The fact that the sun could produce such structures couldn’t be explained before. Now we know that the outer corona is just as inhomogeneous as the rest of the atmosphere.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.