Research NewsAstrophysics

Sunquakes May Power Solar Symphony

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Science  13 Feb 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5353, pp. 987
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5353.987

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The sun vibrates with millions of different overtones, but their exact cause has been a mystery. Now a paper to appear in the 1 March issue of the Astrophysical Journal proposes that solar tremors called "sunquakes" power this resonance with bursts of sound. By analyzing measurements of the solar atmosphere for motions caused by sound, the researchers found evidence that strengthens a theory that gas plunges noisily below the solar surface. Although it's unclear how these downdrafts might generate the noise, the team detected this acoustic energy feeding one type of solar oscillation.