The Magnetic Field of the Sun’s Corona Was Measured: Find Out All the Details

sun's corona measured

The Sun’s corona – the outer atmosphere of burning hot plasma – is a source of permanent interest for scientists. In a huge move forward in our understanding, a team of scientists has mapped out an area of the Sun’s magnetic field for the first time. 

The magnetic field helps to control and drive many particularities of the Sun, from the massive solar blasts that can trigger life on Earth to how the plasma around it is heated to extreme temperatures. 

The recent measurements will shed some light on scientists’ research and bring a better understanding of the 11-year solar cycle. Here is what you need to know. 

Results of the Magnetic Field of the Sun’s Corona

Scientists have previously succeeded in performing measurements only of the solar magnetic field at the photospheric level, or the solar surface. But now, recent research extends that all the way up to the Sun’s corona. 

Scientists used the Coronal Multi-channel Polarimeter, also known as CoMP, tools at the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory in Hawaii to detect the progress of Alfven waves. These waves are some magnetic waves that behave as indicators of the underlying magnetic field, varying in speed as the magnetic field becomes more powerful. 

To reach the final stage of the measurements, the wave data was mixed with information about the electron density of the Sun’s corona to develop a fuller picture of the magnetic field than we’ve ever got before. Of course, there’s still a lot that scientists don’t know about the Sun, but little by little, from investigations of it and research on Earth, we’re going to learn more. 

“[…] the Sun’s corona is full of these Alfven waves and brings us the best available view of them,” stated Richard Morton, a physicist from Northumbria University in the UK.

Scientists also said that this is only the beginning. The procedures applied now could be used regularly to develop a frequently updated picture of how the corona’s magnetic field works. 

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