Waves are believed to play a key role in the energy balance of our star and can be employed to indirectly characterize the structure of the Sun. They are a hot topic in astrophysics, but many of the interested phenomena is not observable from existing facilities. The European Solar Telescope will allow to observe those better. A post written by Dr. Tobías Felipe, from Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias.
The whole Sun is full of oscillatory phenomena. Waves and oscillations can be found in the deep solar interior as well as in the outermost layers of its atmosphere. The Sun hosts various kinds of waves with different properties. Some of the observed oscillations are produced by acoustic waves, whose nature is similar to that of the waves that allow us to hear the sound. However, the presence of strong magnetic fields in the solar surface and atmosphere gives rise to new types of waves.
The study of solar waves is a hot topic in astrophysics. Waves are believed to play a key role in the energy balance of our star, since they are one of the candidates proposed to explain the high temperatures measured in the chromosphere and the corona of the Sun, one of the long-standing unanswered problems of solar physics. In addition, the analysis of solar oscillations can be employed to indirectly characterize the structure of the Sun by performing seismic studies.
Many of the solar wave phenomena of interest take place at short spatial and temporal scales, which are out or reach of current observing facilities. The future European Solar Telescope, with its 4-meter mirror, will allow us to peep into those small scales, helping us to unravel the mysteries of the solar wave propagation.
The left panel of the movie shows the wave propagation in a sunspot atmosphere from a numerical simulation driven by actual solar observations (Felipe et al. 2011). The right panels illustrate the velocity oscillations measured at the photosphere (bottom panel) and the chromosphere (top panel).
More information can be found in this paper.