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Kind of like a zit, but full of plasma.
January 8, 2011 8:26 AM   Subscribe

One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface. - Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona
posted by The Whelk (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Narrow jets of material, called spicules, streak upward from the Sun's surface at high speeds.

"Narrow" is a relative term: these are jets of superheated plasma with a cross-section larger than the the size of, oh, England.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2011


Was so expecting a picture of Rush Limbaugh.
posted by fartknocker at 8:43 AM on January 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry but this still makes no sense to me (though a lot of astrophysics seems counterintuitive). For the jets to impart heat to the corona wouldn't they themselves have to be hotter than the corona? And if these jets are coming from the interior why don't they heat the surface on their way to the corona? I have a headache.
posted by vapidave at 8:55 AM on January 8, 2011


[Link changed. Please don't use shortened URLs in mefi posts, there's no benefit in this context and there's net negatives from the obfuscation and redirect and, in the case of ht.ly, the super-scummy iframing and refusal to expand the link.]
posted by cortex at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2011


Kind-of-like-a-zit-but-full-of-plasma

a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona


Sounds like the sun's got a good ol' drinkin' buddy.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona

Nerd rage about the third act of the movie Sunshine?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:23 AM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This thread is too hot to touch.
posted by Senator at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2011


Just commenting to say, good work on the post title. Time to go pop me a sun.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:35 AM on January 8, 2011


At least it's not something in Mono Lake.
posted by buzzv at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2011


Ok, I'll narrow the question.

Does this (impossible to me but I accept the observational evidence) energy transfer occur via a change in states of matter? I need to tell myself something to remove this headache. I'll settle for for an authoritative statement on how unicorns as the mechanism at this point.
posted by vapidave at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2011


I can't understand why no one has thought to ask Bill O'Reilly for the solution to this conundrum.
posted by Decani at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bill is stuck on tides: The come in they go out - no lack of communication.
posted by vapidave at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Sits down, fixes vapidave with a steely gaze, clears throat)

Though I have studied the mechanism professionally for over a decade as part of my PhD in solar plasma physics, I have to admit I still find it fiendishly complex, and confusing. What I can tell you though, is this: it involves unicorns. And the teleportation of astonishingly large numbers of goats.

(Stands up, crosses the room, throws open the door, and, refusing to acknowledge the error for fear of detracting from the gravitas of the moment, strides purposefully through the doorway and headlong into a broom closet)
posted by kcds at 7:39 AM on January 10, 2011


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