On the Surface of the Sun

There are some wonderful images and movies going around from the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope which has produced the highest resolution images of the solar surface ever seen.

Here’s a snapshot:

And here’s a movie:

In the above image you can see the granular structure of the Sun’s photosphere. The cells you can see are a manifestation of the large-scale convective motions that transport energy from the Sun’s inner regions to the surface. This energy is created by nuclear reactions in the solar core and it sets up convective motions in the outer layers rather like those in a pan of boiling water set up by heating from below (or perhaps the gentler motions that appearin a lava lamp).

The surface structure looks surprisingly regular but the highly turbulent magnetized plasma is responsible to an extraordinary range of activity, from sunspots, flares and prominences, to the heating of the solar corona and the generation of the solar wind.

 

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