r-newsSolar Physics

SOHO Probes Sun's Interior by Tuning In to Its Vibrations

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Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1264-1265
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1264


Brussels—From a listening post well away from the turbulence of Earth's atmosphere, 1.5 million kilometers toward the sun, the European Space Agency's SOHO spacecraft is tuning in to the sun's vibrations 24 hours a day. These vibrations—waves of pressure or buoyancy that penetrate deep into the sun—carry clues to its internal structure, from the churning layers just beneath its surface to the nuclear furnace at its core. While ground-based observers are successfully pursuing this strategy, known as helioseismology (see Articles, this issue), the first results from SOHO, reported last week, far surpass the clarity of ground-based measurements.