March 25, 2023

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Heartbeat on a cosmic scale. Scientists have tracked down a mysterious signal originating not far from Earth

It propagates in radio waves coming from the sun’s atmosphere. As the authors of the publication in Nature CommunicationsThe data was collected during a Class C solar flare, when material spewed from our star was more than 5,000 kilometers above its surface.

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As we read in the aforementioned article, such pulsations are often detected in flares originating from the Sun and other stars, but the mechanisms behind them have remained unknown. According to team members, high-energy electrons, which are accelerated due to magnetic reconnection occurring at the site, are responsible for all the confusion, as confirmed by magnetodynamic simulations.

According to Sijie Yu, one of the authors, the heartbeat-like pattern should hold the key to solving the mystery of how energy is released and dissipated in the sun’s atmosphere during eruptions. This, in turn, should translate to collecting information about other stars less well known than our own.

A heartbeat-like signal is emitted from the sun

The killer flare occurred on July 13, 2017 and was captured by the EOVSA Radio Telescope (EOVSA).Owens Valley Solar Expanded Array). Its instruments monitor the sun over a wide range of microwave frequencies from 1 to 18 gigahertz. They also collect data on the high-energy electrons in our star’s atmosphere. These are in this case because of the flares that occur.

Because of its repetitive nature and pattern that includes radio bursts occurring approximately every 10-20 seconds, scientists compare the detected signal to a heartbeat. Through spectral imaging with EOVSA, scientists have acquired spatially and temporally resolved prognoses of non-thermal electrons from the explosions. As they note, the distribution of high-energy electrons indicates a close relationship between the two sources of the so-called quasi-periodic pulse.

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In their search for more answers, the researchers used solar flare modeling and observations of soft X-ray emission from solar flares. The latter was measured by the GOES satellite, which operates at two different power bands. The most likely current explanation is bubble-like structures forming in the current leaf, moving semi-periodically toward the site of the flare.