Astronomers have now identified the source of the strange heartbeat-like signals emitted by the sun during solar flares. According to a new study, the findings could help us learn more about how potentially deadly solar storms are unleashed.
Solar radio bursts are streams of electromagnetic radiation — primarily radio waves, but also microwaves, ultraviolet light, and X-rays — that are released into space during solar flares together with jets of superhot plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
Solar radio bursts, as well as some stellar radio bursts from distant stars, feature periodic patterns known as quasi-periodic pulsations (QPPs). These patterns comprise small interruptions in the radiation stream that generate troughs and peaks on a graph, akin to an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which is a recording of electrical signals from the heart.
Yu and colleagues examined a heartbeat signal contained within a medium C-class flare that harmlessly erupted from the sun on July 13, 2017, in a report published Dec. 12, 2022, in the journal Nature Communications.
Experts have detected a C-class solar flare positioned 3,106 miles above the star's surface as the source of the beating type signal, which repeats every 10 to 20 seconds.
The scientists behind the groundbreaking finding, led by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), believe that identifying the source of the heartbeat - the solar flare - will help scientists better understand how dangerous solar storms are created.
Astronomer and co-author of the study Sijie Yu, said: "This beating pattern is important for understanding how energy is released and is dissipated in the Sun's atmosphere during these incredibly powerful explosions on the sun."
Moreover, Yu claims that the findings of the study shed new light on a crucial aspect underlying the reconnection process that drives these explosive events.
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