Physicists Measure the Global Magnetic Field of Solar Corona For the First Time

A map of the coronal magnetic field strength superimposed on a coronal image taken by the AIA instrument on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: Yang et al. 2020, Science

A map of the coronal magnetic field strength superimposed on a coronal image taken by the AIA instrument on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: Yang et al. 2020, Science

The Doppler image sequence that one gets from the CoMP observations quite regularly reveal the prevalence of propagating periodic disturbances.

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  • Last Updated: August 22, 2020, 8:11 PM IST

It is very well known that the sun is the brightest star that is visible to living beings on Earth. But what is lesser known is the fact that it is magnetized and its magnetic field is three dimensional.

The magnetic field of the sun occupies all layers of the solar atmosphere. However, due to lack of knowledge about magnetic fields in the outermost solar atmosphere, the corona has made it difficult to understand the solar magnetism and many phenomena in the solar atmosphere.

According to a report published in Eurekalert, a team of researchers led by TIAN Hui, a professor from both Peking University and National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), has measured the global magnetic field of the solar corona.

This team used observations from the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter (CoMP). This is an instrument which is operated by the High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA.

Prof. TIAN said, “By applying this technique to CoMP-like instruments in the future, global coronal magnetic field maps could be routinely obtained, filling in the missing part of the measurements of the Sun’s global magnetism”.

For the unversed, CoMP is basically a coronagraph with a 20-cm aperture. This instrument can observe the solar corona using the Fe XIII 1074.7 nm and 1079.8 nm infrared spectral lines.

The Doppler image sequence that one gets from the CoMP observations quite regularly reveal the prevalence of propagating periodic disturbances. These disturbances indicate the ubiquitous presence of transverse plasma waves in the corona.


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