We have direct evidence of Alfvèn waves in the Sun's atmosphere

We have direct evidence of Alfvèn waves in the Sun's atmosphere

After more than 50 years of indirect tests, we finally managed to capture the Alfvén waves, particular waves responsible for the transmission of energy in the solar photosphere

(photo: Nasa) Finally we have the first direct proof of their existence . These are the Alfvén waves, a particular type of magnetic wave that plays an important role in transmitting energy into the Sun's atmosphere and transporting it over large distances. And that now, after over 50 years of indirect tests, we have finally managed to confirm its existence. This is told by a study just published in Nature Astronomy and coordinated by Marco Stangalini, of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and associate of the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) and by Robertus Erdélyi of the University of Sheffield.

Using the Ibis spectropolarimeter (Interferometric Bidimensional Spectrometer) of INAF and created in collaboration with the universities of Florence and Rome Tor Vergata and installed at the Dunn Solare Telescope in New Mexico, the researchers were able to carry out high-resolution spectropolarimetric observations of the solar photosphere and experimentally confirm the existence of Alfvén waves, also calling torsion magnetic waves. "It is the first time that this particular type of wave has been directly identified in the lower solar atmosphere, thus making it possible to shed light on the mechanisms of excitation of the same", commented Stangalini. “What our results show us is that these waves are excited by the convective motions on the surface of the star from where they are able to extract enormous amounts of energy, far greater than those required to heat the outermost layers of our star. The question we now ask ourselves is therefore where does all this energy go ”.

The results of the study, moreover, will help to improve the understanding of some phenomena such as the heating of the corona and the acceleration of the solar wind, but not only: the direct proof of the existence of Alfvèn waves will play a fundamental role also in the world of high energy astrophysics and in the field of nuclear fusion. "This result confirms the importance of the study of photospheric dynamics for the understanding of the complex physical phenomena that occur in the upper layers of the solar atmosphere, often connected to the sources of space weather", explains Francesco Berrilli, professor of the Physics Department of Rome Tor Vergata. "This is evidence that we solar physicists have been looking for for more than 20 years," adds Dario Del Moro, researcher at the Department of Physics at Tor Vergata. "The next step will consist in using these processes as diagnostics to extract information on the dynamics of our star's atmosphere".

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