Physicists, led by a researcher at the University of Warwick, studying new images of clouds of material exploding from the Sun have spotted instabilities forming in that exploding cloud that are similar to those seen in clouds in Earth’s atmosphere. These results could greatly assist physicists trying to understand and predict our Solar System’s “weather”.
The researchers, led by of the Center for Fusion Space and Astrophysics, at the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, made their discovery when examining new images of clouds of material exploding from the Sun known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These images were provided by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) experiment on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO was been launched last year and provides unprecedented views of the Sun in multiple temperatures.
The new SDO/AIA observations provided images of coronal mass ejections in the extreme ultra violet at a temperature that was not possible to observe in previous instruments – 11 million Kelvin. On examining these images the Warwick researchers spotted a familiar pattern of instability on one flank of an exploding cloud of solar material that closely paralleled instabilities seen in Earth’s clouds and waves on the surfaces of seas.