Research NewsSolar Physics

Putting Some Sizzle in the Corona

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Science  21 Jun 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5269, pp. 1738
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5269.1738


Madison, Wisconsin—An instrument aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory satellite has detected 100-million-degree oxygen ions in the suns atmosphere, investigators announced at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society here last week. That temperature is tens of times higher than has ever been measured before in the corona, the sun's halo of ionized gases. But a handful of solar physicists aren't surprised. They say that the detection of superhot oxygen provides crucial support for theories that they have proposed to solve the mystery of what heats the corona to millions of degrees when the surface of the sun is a cool 6000 degrees.

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