Report

Hot explosions in the cool atmosphere of the Sun

Science  17 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6207,
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255726

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Abstract

The solar atmosphere was traditionally represented with a simple one-dimensional model. Over the past few decades, this paradigm shifted for the chromosphere and corona that constitute the outer atmosphere, which is now considered a dynamic structured envelope. Recent observations by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) reveal that it is difficult to determine what is up and down, even in the cool 6000-kelvin photosphere just above the solar surface: This region hosts pockets of hot plasma transiently heated to almost 100,000 kelvin. The energy to heat and accelerate the plasma requires a considerable fraction of the energy from flares, the largest solar disruptions. These IRIS observations not only confirm that the photosphere is more complex than conventionally thought, but also provide insight into the energy conversion in the process of magnetic reconnection.

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