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Last Post 10/23/2019 8:28 AM by  Laurel Rachmeler
Unknown about the sun
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10/22/2019 1:27 PM
    [from AnswerGarden]
    What is still unknown about the sun?
    Tags: sun

    Laurel Rachmeler

    New Member

    New Member

    10/23/2019 8:28 AM
    There is so much we still don't know about the Sun! Our understanding of the Sun changed completely about 70 years ago with the dawn of the space era and the ability to study the Sun from outside of Earth's atmosphere---our atmosphere blocks a lot of the light from reaching the surface, which protects us from a lot of radiation.

    There are many theories that we have now about the Sun for which we lack the ability to take data that would definitely prove or disprove it. For example, the solar corona is hotter than the photosphere. The two main theories as to why this is the case have to do with waves or with magnetic reconnection. We need observations of the Sun that are more sensitive than we have now to definitively say if one or the other is the cause, or if it is a combination of the two.

    Another question has to do with the motions of the plasma below the photosphere. We can use a technique called helioseismology to understand the density, temperature, and flows beneath the surface, but this technique is not precise enough to tell us everything we need to know. We believe that there are subsurface cells (meridional cells) that influence the way that the sun flips its magnetic orientation every ~11 years. However, the number of cells, the location of them, and how they change during a single cycle is still unknown.

    It is very difficult to measure almost anything in the solar atmosphere, including density, temperature, magnetic field strength. While we have some measurements that allow us to calculate these things, and we can come up with a good feels for the general state of things, the Sun changes all of the time, and so we don't know what specifically the Sun is like right NOW. Many people work on designing and building new telescopes and instruments to measure these things and it is a big area of research.

    There is definitely a lot that we still don't know, and a lot that we still have to learn. I'm personally pretty happy about that, because if we knew everything, then there wouldn't be a need anymore for scientists like me who study the Sun! For now though, I and my colleagues are working hard to add more things from the "unknown" stack into the "known" stack.
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