Washington, Jan 11 : A team of researchers has revealed new insights into the small-scale dynamics of the Sun''s photosphere.
NJIT Professor Philip R. Goode and the research team at Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) made the observations during a period of historic inactivity on the Sun.
"The smallest scale photospheric magnetic field seems to come in isolated points in the dark intergranular lanes, rather than the predicted continuous sheets confined to the lanes," said Goode.
"The unexpected longevity of the bright points implies a deeper anchoring than predicted."
The researchers showed for the first time how photospheric plasma motion and magnetic fields are in equipartition over a wide dynamic range, while unleashing energy in ever-smaller scales.
"Our data clearly illustrates that the Sun can generate magnetic fields not only as previously known in the convective zone but also on the near-surface layer. We believe small-scale turbulent flows of less than 500 km to be the catalyst," said NJIT Research Professor Valentyna Abramenko at BBSO.
They also found tiny jet-like features originating in the dark lanes surrounding the ubiquitous granules. Such events hold the key to unlocking the mystery of heating the solar atmosphere, the researchers said.
"The solar chromosphere shows itself ceaselessly changing character with small-scale energetic events occurring constantly on the solar surface, said NJIT Research Professor Vasyl Yurchyshyn, also at BBSO.
The researchers hope to establish how such dynamics can explain the movement underlying convective flows and turbulent magnetic fields.
Scientists believe that magnetic structures like sunspots hold the key to space weather - the occurrences could affect Earth''s climate and environment.
The telescope will be the pathfinder for an even larger ground-based telescope, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), to be built over the next decade.
The observations are reported in The Astrophysical Journal. (ANI)