# Plasmas/Plasma objects/Sun

"Energetic photons, ions and electrons from the solar wind, together with galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays, constantly bombard surfaces of planets, planetary satellites, dust particles, comets and asteroids."[1]

"Soon after the instruments opened their doors, the Sun began performing for SDO with this beautiful prominence eruption." Credit: NASA.

## Plasmas

Def. a "state of matter consisting of [partially][2] fully ionized gas"[3] is called a plasma.

## Plasma objects

The solar corona is photographed between 1901-2. Credit: Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.

Def. the "luminous plasma atmosphere of the Sun or other star, extending millions of kilometres into space, most easily seen during a total solar eclipse"[4] is called a corona, or stellar corona.

Def. an object consisting of particles in which > 50 % are ions and electrons is called a plasma object.

It "is possible to virtually stop and maintain a slow, (many Hubble times!) steady collapse of a compact physical plasma object outside of its Schwarzschild radius with photon pressure generated by synchrotron radiation from an equipartition surface magnetic field. To control the rate of collapse, the object must radiate at the local Eddington limit, but from a highly redshifted surface. [...] There is recent evidence for the presence of such extreme magnetic fields in gravitational collapse. Equipartition magnetic fields have been implicated as the driver of GRB 021206 [Coburn & Boggs 2003] and fields much in excess of those expected from mere flux compression during stellar collapse have been found in magnetars [Ibrahim, Swank & Parke 2003]. Kluzniak and Ruderman [1998] have described the generation of ∼ 1017 G magnetic fields via differential rotation in neutron stars."[5]

"Beginning with the daguerreotype of the corona of 1851, the Reverend Lecturer had thrown on the screen pictures illustrating the form of the corona in different years. The drawings of those of 1867, 1878, and 1900 all showed long equatorial extensions with openings at the solar poles filled with beautiful rays."[6] "The intermediate years, as, for example, 1883, 1886, and 1896 showed the four groups of synclinals which mainly constitute the corona gradually descending towards the equator of the sun, with a corresponding opening of the polar regions."[6]

"Some of the theories of the solar corona were then illustrated and discussed."[6]

1. "The corona is not of the nature of an atmosphere round the sun, for the pressure at the sun's limb would be enormous, while the thinness of the chromospheric lines show that it is not."[6]
2. "comets, such as that of 1843, have approached the sun with enormous velocities within the region of the prominences without suffering disruption or retardation."[6]
3. "If not an atmosphere of particles of gas, still less is it an atmosphere of solid stones or meteorites."[6]
4. "Meteor streams do circle round the sun, but there is no reason why the positions of the orbits, or the intrinsic brightness of such streams should vary with the sun-spot period."[6]
5. "the appearance of the corona does not seem to be such as the projection of meteor streams upon the celestial vault would give."[6]
6. "Prof. Schaeberle has proposed a mechanical origin of the solar corona, due to the forces of ejection of particles from the solar limb, as evidenced by the prominences, and the force of gravity under the particular conditions of the solar rotation and the inclination of its axis to the earth's orbit."[6]
7. "The electrical theory of the corona does not negative the mechanical theory, but supplements it. In addition to the forces of gravity and ejection, it takes account of the repulsive force which the sun exerts on matter which has the same electrical sign as itself, and which has been ejected from it."[6]
8. "it would seem that the solar corona is of the nature of an electrical aurora round the sun."[6]
9. "the coronoidal discharges in poor vacua obtained by Prof. Pupin about an insulated metal ball are exceedingly like the rays and streamers of the solar corona."[6]

The Sun's hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units. The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.[7][8]

"[T]he sun's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind. Inconsistencies in this wind and larger events on the surface of the star, such as coronal mass ejections, form a system that has features analogous to conventional weather systems (such as pressure and wind) and is generally known as space weather. Coronal mass ejections have been tracked as far out in the solar system as Saturn.[9] The activity of this system can affect planetary atmospheres and occasionally surfaces. The interaction of the solar wind with the terrestrial atmosphere can produce spectacular aurorae,[10] and can play havoc with electrically sensitive systems such as electricity grids and radio signals."[11]

## Stars

Def. a "luminous celestial body, made up of [plasma][12] gases (particularly hydrogen and helium), forming a sphere[13] [and having a spherical shape]"[14] is called a star.

## Solar sciences

The GOES 14 spacecraft took this image of the Sun. Credit: NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center and the NWS Internet Services Team.

The GOES 14 spacecraft carries a Solar X-ray Imager that took this image [at right] of the Sun during the most recent quiet period. The Sun appears dark because of the wavelength band of observation and the lack of X-rays.

Except for X-ray emission that suggests a circular disc with some isolated X-ray sources at specific locations, the Sun is almost invisible. X-rays are primarily emitted from plasmas near 106 K.

## Filaments

This solar filament, some 350,000 kilometres long, erupted from the surface of the Sun on 31 August. Credit: NASA.{{fairuse}}

"This solar filament, some 350,000 kilometres long, erupted from the surface of the Sun on 31 August. Seen in the extreme ultraviolet by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite, the eruption became a coronal mass ejection moving at about 1,400 kilometres per second — its particles grazed Earth’s magnetosphere several days later, sparking an auroral display."[15]

## Dynamos

"[M]otions resulting from [a linear magnetohydrodynamic] instability act as a dynamo to sustain the magnetic field."[16] "Supersonic flows are initially generated by the Balbus-Hawley magnetic shear instability."[16]

"A plasma with local magnetohydrodynamic instabilities creates mechanical turbulence, motion, or shear (a dynamo) which in turn generates or sustains the local magnetic field."[17]

"The solar dynamo is the physical process that generates the Sun's magnetic field. The Sun is permeated by an overall dipole magnetic field, as are many other celestial bodies such as the Earth. The dipole field is produced by a circular electric current flowing deep within the star, following Ampère's law. The current is produced by shear (stretching of material) between different parts of the Sun that rotate at different rates, and the fact that the Sun itself is a very good electrical conductor (and therefore governed by the laws of magnetohydrodynamics)."[18]

## Magnetic reconnections

"Magnetic reconnection is a physical process in highly conducting plasmas in which the magnetic topology is rearranged and magnetic energy is converted to kinetic energy, thermal energy, and particle acceleration. Magnetic reconnection occurs on timescales intermediate between slow resistive diffusion of the magnetic field and fast Alfvénic timescales. The qualitative description of the reconnection process is such that magnetic field lines from different magnetic domains (defined by the field line connectivity) are spliced to one another, changing their patterns of connectivity with respect to the sources. It is a violation of an approximate conservation law in plasma physics, and can concentrate mechanical or magnetic energy in both space and time."[19]

## Strong forces

"Due to the very low energy of the colliding protons in the Sun, only states with no angular momentum (s-waves) contribute significantly. One can consider it as a head-on collision, so that angular momentum plays no role. Consequently, the total angular momentum is the sum of the spins, and the spins alone control the reaction. Because of Pauli's exclusion principle, the incoming protons must have opposite spins. On the other hand, in the only bound state of deuterium, the spins of the neutron and proton are aligned. Hence a spin flip must take place [...] The strength of the nuclear force which holds the neutron and the proton together depends on the spin of the particles. The force between an aligned proton and neutron is sufficient to give a bound state, but the interaction between two protons does not yield a bound state under any circumstances. Deuterium has only one bound state."[20]

The "force acting between the protons and the neutrons [is] the strong force".[20]

"A potential of 36 MeV is needed to get just one energy state."[20]

The width of a bound proton and neutron is "2.02 x 10-13 cm".[20]

## Electromagnetics

A fossil stellar magnetic field is a relic "of the primordial field that [threads] the interstellar gas out of which stars [form].[21] As "[o]hmic decay times in stable radiative envelopes ... are very long, [a] primordial field sufficiently concentrated by the star formation process [may survive] through most or all of such a star’s main-sequence [lifetime].[21] "[T]he slow rotation of most magnetic ... stars relative to [non-magnetics of the same spectral type] is ... [the] result of magnetic braking by the field threading the stars."[21] "Invoking fossil origins for the observed surface magnetism, with predominate dipole structure surviving, is a favored explanation ... since strong fields could more easily be obtained."[21]

The Sun consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields.[22][23]

The Sun is a magnetically active star. It [has] a strong, changing magnetic field that varies year-to-year and reverses direction about every eleven years around solar maximum.[24] The Sun's magnetic field leads to many effects that are collectively called solar activity, including sunspots on the surface of the Sun, solar flares, and variations in solar wind that carry material through the Solar System.[25] Effects of solar activity on Earth include auroras at moderate to high latitudes, and the disruption of radio communications and electric power. Solar activity [may] have played a large role in the formation and evolution of the Solar System. Solar activity changes the structure of Earth's outer atmosphere.[26]

"The first systematic attempt to base a theory of the origin of the solar system on electromagnetic or hydromagnetic effects was made in Alfvén (1942). The reason for doing so was that a basic difficulty with the old Laplacian hypothesis: how can a central body (Sun or planet) transfer angular momentum to the secondary bodies (planets or satellites) orbiting around it? It was demonstrated that this could be done by electromagnetic effects. No other acceptable mechanism has yet been worked out. [...] the electromagnetic transfer mechanism has been confirmed by observations, as described in the monograph Cosmic Plasma (Alfvén, 1981, pp. 28, 52, 53 0."[27]

"If charged particles (electrons, ions or charged grains) move in a magnetic dipole field - strong enough to dominate their motion - under the action of gravitation and the centrifugal force, they will find an equilibrium in a circular orbit if their centrifugal force is 2/3 of the gravitational force [...] The consequence of this is that if they become neutralized, so that electromagnetic forces disappear, the centrifugal force is too small to balance the gravitation. Their circular orbit changes to an elliptical orbit with the semi-major axis a = 3/4a0 and e = 1/3 (where a0 is the central distance where the neutralization takes place [...] Collisional (viscous) interaction between the condensed particles will eventually change the orbit into a new circular orbit with a = 2/3a0 and e = 0."[27]

"If [...] there is plasma in the region [collisional interaction results in] matter in the 2/3-[region]. [...] matter in the region [...] will produce a [cosmogonic] shadow in the region".[27]

"[A] variety of geophysical and astrophysical phenomena can be explained by a net charge on the Sun of -1.5 x 1028 e.s.u."[28] This figure was later reduced by a factor of five.[29]

${\displaystyle Q_{\odot }=-0.3\times 10^{28}\,{\hbox{esu}}.}$

## Polar temperatures

From model calculations based on data from Ulysses and Skylab, “[i]nside 2 Rʘ the [interplanetary medium] temperature is a minimum over the poles, with values Teff ~106 K, while farther from the Sun the temperature is a maximum over the poles with Teff ~3 x 106 K at its maximum value [at about 5 Rʘ out to 7 Rʘ].”[30] Teff is estimated to be ~2 x 105 K at 1 AU over the poles and ~1.5 x 105 in the equatorial region out at 1 AU, which compare well with spacecraft observations.[30]

## Gaseous objects

The solar photosphere is a "weakly ionized [ni/(ni + na)] ~ 10-4, relatively cold and dense plasma".[31]

## Meteors

Arcs rise above an active region on the surface of the Sun in this series of images taken by the STEREO (Behind) spacecraft. Credit: Images courtesy of the NASA STEREO Science Center{{free media}}

"[A] medium-strength flare erupted from the sun on July 19, 2012. The blast also generated the enormous, shimmering plasma loops, which are an example of a phenomenon known as "coronal rain," agency officials said."[32]

"Hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region" slowly falling back to the solar surface as plasma "rain".[32]

"Many CMEs have also been observed to be unassociated with any obvious solar surface activity"[33].

In the images at right, a CME, or "arcs rise above an active region on the surface of the Sun in this series of images taken by the STEREO (Behind) spacecraft on January 27, 2010. The arcs are plasma, superheated matter made up of moving charged particles (electrons and ions). Just as iron filings arc from one end of a magnet to another, the plasma is sliding in an arc along magnetic field lines. In a movie of STEREO observations made between January 26 and January 29, the dynamic streams were initially just over the Sun’s edge and readily spotted as the Sun rotated them more into view."[34]

## Neutrons

The image is a schematic view of the Mount Norikura solar neutron telescope. Credit: Y. Muraki, K. Murakami, M. Miyazaki, K. Mitsui. S. Shibata, S. Sakakibara, T. Sakai, T. Takahashi, T. Yamada, and K. Yamaguchi.

A "new detector to observe solar neutrons [has been in operation] since 1990 October 17 [...] at the Mount Norikura Cosmic Ray Laboratory (CRL) of [the] Institute for cosmic Ray Research, the University of Tokyo."[35]

"On 1991 June 1, an active sunspot appeared at N25 E90 on the Sun (NOAA region 6659). The commencement of an enormous bright flare was observed at 03:37 UT on 1991 June 4 [...] The flare was classified as 3 B and the location was at N31 E70 of the solar surface."[35]

"The solar neutron telescope [image at right] consists of 10 blocks of scintillator [...] and several lead plates which are used to place kinetic energies Tn of incoming particles into three bands (50-360 MeV, 280-500 MeV, and ≥ 390 MeV)."[35] The telescope is inclined to the direction of the Sun by 15°.[35] The plane area of the detector is 1.0 m2 and protected by lead plates (Pb) to eliminate gamma-ray and muon background from the side of the detector.[35] The anti-coincident counter (A) is used to reject the muons and gamma rays, coming from the side of the detector and the top scintillators.[35] (P) and (G) are used to identify the proton events and gamma rays.[35] The central scintillator blocks are optically separated into 10 units.[35]

"The horizontal scintillator just above the 10 vertical scintillators distinguishes neutral particles (neutrons) from the charged particles (mainly muons, protons and electrons)."[35]

"Mount Norikura Cosmic-Ray Laboratory has an elevation of 2770 m above sea level. The geographical latitude is 36.10° N and the longitude is 137.55° E. The zenith angle of the Sun at 03:37 UT on June 4 is 18.9° and the solar neutron telescope was set at a zenith angle of 15° on this day."[35]

## Neutrinos

Neutrino flux at Earth predicted by the Standard Solar Model of 2005. The neutrinos produced in the pp chain are shown in black, neutrinos produced by the CNO cycle are shown in blue. The solar neutrino spectrum predicted by the BS05(OP) standard solar model. The neutrino fluxes from continuum sources are given in units of number cm−2 s−1 MeV−1 at one astronomical unit, and the line fluxes are given in number cm−2 s−1. Credit: John N. Bahcall, Aldo M.Serenelli, and Sarbani Basu.{{fairuse}}

"A star is considered to be at zero age (protostellar) when it is assumed to have a homogeneous composition and to be just beginning to derive most of its luminosity from nuclear reactions (so neglecting the period of contraction from a cloud of gas and dust). To obtain the SSM, a one solar mass stellar model at zero age is evolved numerically to the age of the Sun. The abundance of elements in the zero age solar model is estimated from primordial meteorites.[36] Along with this abundance information, a reasonable guess at the zero-age luminosity (such as the present-day Sun's luminosity) is then converted by an iterative procedure into the correct value for the model, and the temperature, pressure and density throughout the model calculated by solving the equations of stellar structure numerically assuming the star to be in a steady state. The model is then evolved numerically up to the age of the Sun. Any discrepancy from the measured values of the Sun's luminosity, surface abundances, etc. can then be used to refine the model. For example, since the Sun formed, the helium and heavy elements have settled out of the photosphere by diffusion. As a result, the Solar photosphere now contains about 87% as much helium and heavy elements as the protostellar photosphere had; the protostellar Solar photosphere was 71.1% hydrogen, 27.4% helium, and 1.5% metals.[36] A measure of heavy-element settling by diffusion is required for a more accurate model."[37]

"Nuclear reactions in the core of the Sun change its composition, by converting hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei by the proton-proton chain and (to a lesser extent in the Sun than in more massive stars) the CNO cycle. This decreases the mean molecular weight in the core of the Sun, which should lead to a decrease in pressure. This does not happen as instead the core contracts. By the Virial Theorem half of the gravitational potential energy released by this contraction goes towards raising the temperature of the core, and the other half is radiated away. By the ideal gas law this increase in temperature also increases the pressure and restores the balance of hydrostatic equilibrium. The luminosity of the Sun is increased by the temperature rise, increasing the rate of nuclear reactions. The outer layers expand to compensate for the increased temperature and pressure gradients, so the radius also increases.[38]"[37]

"Most of the neutrinos produced in the sun come from the first step of the pp chain but their energy is so low (<0.425 MeV)[39] they are very difficult to detect. A rare side branch of the pp chain produces the "boron-8" neutrinos with a maximum energy of roughly 15 MeV, and these are the easiest neutrinos to detect. A very rare interaction in the pp chain produces the "hep" neutrinos, the highest energy neutrinos predicted to be produced by our sun. They are predicted to have a maximum energy of about 18 MeV."[37]

"All of the interactions described above produce neutrinos with a spectrum of energies. The electron capture of 7Be produces neutrinos at either roughly 0.862 MeV (~90%) or 0.384 MeV (~10%).[39]"[37]

## Gamma rays

Illumination of the Sun's photosphere is in part by gamma rays. Each gamma ray that interacts with the photosphere is converted into several million photons of visible light. At the visible surface of the Sun, the temperature has dropped to 5,700 K and the density to only 0.2 g/m3 (about 1/6,000th the density of air at sea level).[40]

This X-ray image is first light of the Sun from the GOES-15 SXI, June 2, 2010. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.{{free media}}

Def. the point of origin of a ray, beam, or stream of small cross section traveling in a line is called a radiation source.

The image at right is the first X-ray light image of the Sun by the satellite GOES-15 Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) on June 2, 2010. The surface of the Sun, beneath the coronal cloud layer is dark. The coronal cloud is the actual source of the X-rays.

"X-rays span 3 decades in wavelength, frequency and energy. From 10 to 0.1 nanometers (nm) (about 0.12 to 12 keV) they are classified as soft x-rays, and from 0.1 nm to 0.01 nm (about 12 to 120 keV) as hard X-rays."[41]

"Although the more energetic X-rays, photons with an energy greater than 30 keV (4,800 aJ) can penetrate the air at least for distances of a few meters (they would never have been detected and medical X-ray machines would not work if this was not the case) the Earth's atmosphere is thick enough that virtually none are able to penetrate from outer space all the way to the Earth's surface. X-rays in the 0.5 to 5 keV (80 to 800 aJ) range, where most celestial sources give off the bulk of their energy, can be stopped by a few sheets of paper; ninety percent of the photons in a beam of 3 keV (480 aJ) X-rays are absorbed by traveling through just 10 cm of air."[41]

## Ultraviolets

This is a rotating projection of the entire surface of the Sun on February 10, 2011, as seen by the twin STEREO satellites. Credit: NASA STEREO mission.{{free media}}

Ultraviolet emission from the Sun actually comes from the chromospheres.

## Visuals

The visible light we see is produced as electrons react with hydrogen atoms to produce H ions.[42][43] The photosphere has a particle density of ~1023 m−3 (this is about 0.37% of the particle number per volume of Earth's atmosphere at sea level; however, photosphere particles are electrons and protons, so the average particle in air is 58 times as heavy).

## Reds

"The flare was observed by [the commencement of an enormous bright flare was observed at 03:37 UT on 1991 June 4 (K. Yamaguchi, M. Ire, & M. Miyashita 1991, private communication5; Sakurai et al. 1992) with] a 14 cm aperture Hα monochromatic heliograph of the National Astronomical Observatory [Mitaka, Tokyo 181, Japan]."[35]

## Submillimeters

This image shows the Solar Submillimeter-wave Telescope at the El Leoncito Observatory in the Argentina andes. Credit: Pierre Kaufmann.

The "solar submillimeter telescope [(SST) is] at the El Leoncito Observatory located at 2550 m altitude in the Argentina Andes. The SST has a 1.5 m reflector with four 212 GHz and two 405 GHz radiometers operating simultaneously with 5 ms time resolution. The main-beam cluster consists of three 212 GHz beams (about 4 half-power beamwidth) partially overlapping each other and one 405 GHz beam (about 2) in the center of the three".[44]

## Oxygens

"X-radiation from the Sun impacts oxygen atoms, knock electrons out of the inner parts of their electron clouds, and excite the atoms to a higher energy level in the process. The atoms almost immediately return to their lower energy state and may emit a fluorescent X-ray in this process with an energy characteristic of the atom involved - oxygen in this case. A similar process involving ultraviolet light produces the visible light from fluorescent lamps."[45]

## Sun

The image shows the solar observatory at Harestua near Oslo, Norway. Credit: Hans Olav Lien.{{free media}}

"On April 23, 1978 a system of bright loop prominences was observed at Oslo Solar Observatory, Harestua, on the east limb of the Sun."[46]

"X-ray photons can be effectively backscattered by photosphere atoms and electrons (Tomblin 1972; Bai & Ramaty 1978). ... [A]t energies not dominated by absorption the backscattered albedo flux must be seen virtually in every solar flare spectrum, the degree of the albedo contribution depending on the directivity of the primary X-ray flux (Kontar et al. 2006). The solar flare photons backscattered by the solar photosphere can contribute significantly (the reflected flux is 50-90 % of the primary in the 30 - 50 keV range for isotropic sources) to the total observed photon spectrum. for the simple case of a power-law-like primary solar flare spectrum (without albedo), the photons reflected by the photosphere produce a broad 'hump' component. Photospheric albedo makes the observed spectrum flatter below ~ 35 keV and slightly steeper above, in comparison with the primary spectrum."[47]

## Coronal clouds

This image shows the Sun as viewed by the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT) onboard the orbiting Yohkoh satellite. Credit: NASA Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres.

Def. a cloud, or cloud-like, natural astronomical entity, composed of plasma is called a coronal cloud.

From coronal cloud: "Initially the concept of a coronal cloud developed with observations of clouds or cloud-like structures forming above the photospheric surface of the Sun."

"Coronal clouds, type IIIg, form in space above a spot area and rain streamers upon it."[48] Type IIIg is a subdivision of sunspot prominences (class III).[48] "Occasionally dots form in space above a sunspot group. Other dots then appear, and all coalesce into a suspended cloud from which streamers pour into the spot area."[48]

Although a coronal cloud (as part or all of a stellar or galactic corona) is usually "filled with high-temperature plasma at temperatures of T ≈ 1–2 (MK), ... [h]ot active regions and postflare loops have plasma temperatures of T ≈ 2–40 MK."[49]

The preflare solar material is observed "to be an elevated cloud of prominence-like material which is suddenly lit up by the onslaught of hard electrons accelerated in the flare; the acceleration may be inside or outside the cloud, and brightening is seen in other areas of the solar surface on the same magnetic field lines."[50], per coronal cloud.

"A hot coronal cloud at T ~ 107 K is left behind, presumably evaporated from the original material."[50] "[O]nce ionized, the gas is rapidly heated by Coulomb collisions to the coronal cloud temperature, but as this material peels off, a cooler hydrogen-emitting region is left."[50]

At right is an image showing the Sun as viewed by the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT) onboard the orbiting Yohkoh satellite. The bright, loop-like structures are hot plasma (MK) confined by magnetic fields apparently rooted in the solar interior. An image of the Sun in visible light would show sunspots at the feet of many of these loops. The halo of gas extends well beyond the Sun and almost appears like a shell around the Sun. The darker regions at the North and South poles of the Sun are coronal holes, where the magnetic field lines are open to space and allow particles to escape. These holes are the source for the solar wind.

## Coronal heating

"This false-color temperature map shows solar active region AR10923, observed close to center of the sun's disk. Blue regions indicate plasma near 10 million degrees K." Credit: Reale, et al. (2009), NASA.{{free media}}

The photosphere of the Sun has an effective temperature of 5,570 K[51] yet its corona has an average temperature of 1–2 x 106 K.[52] However, the hottest regions are 8–20 x 106 K.[52] The high temperature of the corona shows that it is heated by something other than direct heat conduction from the photosphere.[53]

Although the total energy output of the photosphere is larger than that of the coronal cloud there appears to be no mechanism to focus it into the corona.

The image at right shows the first detection of high temperature nanoflares. The false-color temperature map of solar active region AR10923, observed close to center of the sun's disk, contains nanoflare regions (blue, indicating plasma near 10 million degrees K).

"Nanoflares are small, sudden bursts of heat and energy. "They occur within tiny strands that are bundled together to form a magnetic tube called a coronal loop," says Klimchuk. Coronal loops are the fundamental building blocks of the thin, translucent gas known as the sun's corona. ... Observations from the NASA-funded X-Ray Telescope (XRT) and Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) instruments aboard Hinode reveal that ultra-hot plasma is widespread in solar active regions. The XRT measured plasma at 10 million degrees K, and the EIS measured plasma at 5 million degrees K. "These temperatures can only be produced by impulsive energy bursts,"says Klimchuk ... "Coronal loops are bundles of unresolved strands that are heated by storms of nanoflares." ... when a nanoflare suddenly releases its energy, the plasma in the low-temperature, low-density strands becomes very hot—around 10 million degrees K—very quickly. The density remains low, however, so the emission, or brightness, remains faint. Heat flows from up in the strand, where it's hot, down to the base of the coronal loop, where it's not as hot. This heats up the dense plasma at the loop’s base. Because it is so dense at the base, the temperature only reaches about 1 million degrees K. This dense plasma expands up into the strand. Thus, a coronal loop is a collection of 5-10 million degree K faint strands and 1 million degree K bright strands. "What we see is 1 million degree K plasma that has received its energy from the heat flowing down from the superhot plasma," says Klimchuk. "For the first time, we have detected this 10 million degree plasma, which can only be produced by the impulsive energy bursts of nanoflares.""[54]

As of December 5, 2011, "Voyager 1 is about ... 18 billion kilometers ... from the [S]un [but] the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere ... the outward speed of the solar wind had diminished to zero in April 2010 ... inward pressure from interstellar space is compacting [the magnetic field] ... Voyager has detected a 100-fold increase in the intensity of high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from outside ... [while] the [solar] wind even blows back at us."[55]

The source of heat that brings the coronal cloud near the Sun hot enough to emit X-rays may be an electron beam heating effect due to "high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from outside"[55].

"Electron beams can be generated by thermionic emission, field emission or the anodic arc method. The generated electron beam is accelerated to a high kinetic energy and focused towards the [target]. When the accelerating voltage is between 20 kV – 25 kV and the beam current is a few amperes, 85% of the kinetic energy of the electrons is converted into thermal energy as the beam bombards the surface of the [target]. The surface temperature of the [target] increases resulting in the formation of a liquid melt. Although some of incident electron energy is lost in the excitation of X-rays and secondary emission, the [target] material evaporates under vacuum."[56]

## Sunspot cycles

This is a montage of solar activity during a sunspot cycle. Credit: David Chenette, Joseph B. Gurman, Loren W. Acton.{{free media}}

At right is a montage of ten years' worth of Yohkoh SXT images, demonstrating the variation in solar activity during a sunspot cycle, from after August 30, 1991, to September 6, 2001.

## Solar cycles

The butterfly diagam shows paired sunspot pattern. The graph is of sunspot Wolf number versus time. Credit: .

"The solar cycle has a great influence on space weather, and a significant influence on the Earth's climate since the Sun's luminosity has a direct relationship with magnetic activity.[57] Solar activity minima tend to be correlated with colder temperatures, and longer than average solar cycles tend to be correlated with hotter temperatures. In the 17th century, the solar cycle appeared to have stopped entirely for several decades; few sunspots were observed during this period. During this era, known as the Maunder minimum or Little Ice Age, Europe experienced unusually cold temperatures.[58] Earlier extended minima have been discovered through analysis of tree rings and appear to have coincided with lower-than-average global temperatures.[59]"[60]

"MOST current literature on solar activity assumes that the planets do not affect it, and that conditions internal to the Sun are primarily responsible for the solar cycle. Bigg1, however, has shown that the period of Mercury's orbit appears in the sunspot data, and that the influence of Mercury depends on the phases of Venus, Earth, and Jupiter."[61]

"It is shown that starting with the alignment of Venus with Jupiter at perihelion position, these two planets will perfectly align at Jupiter's perihelion after every 23.7 years".[62]

"The tidal forces hypothesis for solar cycles has been proposed by Wood (1972) and others. Table 2 below shows the relative tidal forces of the planets on the sun. Jupiter, Venus, Earth and Mercury are called the "tidal planets" because they are the most significant. According to Wood, the especially good alignments of J-V-E with the sun which occur about every 11 years are the cause of the sunspot cycle. He has shown that the sunspot cycle is synchronous with the alignments, and J. Schove's data for 1500 year of sunspot maxima supports the 11.07 year J-V-E period average."[63]

"Both the 11.86 year Jupiter tropical period (time between perihelion's or closest approaches to the sun and the 9.93 year J-S alignment periods are found in sunspot spectral analysis. Unfortunately direct calculations of the tidal forces of all planets does not support the occurrence of the dominant 11.07 year cycle. Instead, the 11.86 year period of Jupiter's perihelion dominates the results. This has caused problems for several researchers in this field."[63]

"[B]y assuming a harmonic variation having a period of 11.13 years ... the phases of such a variation [in polar diameter minus equatorial diameter of the Sun] coincide to within one-fifth of a year with the phases of the sun-spot fluctuations; that, at times corresponding to minimum of sun-spottedness, the polar diameter is relatively larger; that, at times of maximum sun-spottedness, the equatorial diameter is relatively larger. The amplitude of the variation is extremely small, but its reality would seem to be established. [This] at least renders the existence of such periodic fluctuations in the shape of the sun more probable than their non-existence."[64]

"Solar oblateness, the difference between the equatorial and polar diameters, reflects certain fundamental properties of the Sun. ... the oblateness reflects properties of the Sun's interior, ... [There is] a time varying, excess equatorial brightness [producing] a difference between the equatorial and polar limb darkening functions ... at times when the excess brightness is reduced, the intrinsic visual oblateness can be obtained from the observations without detailed knowledge of the excess brightness. A period of reduced excess brightness occurred in 1973 September."[65] The period of reduced excess equatorial brightness occurred between solar cycle maximum around 1970 and minimum around 1975. Considering excess equatorial brightness and seeking to perform measurements at opportunities of reduced excess equatorial brightness has the effect of reducing solar oblateness from some 86.6 ± 6.6 milli-arcsec to 18.4 ± 12.5 milli-arcsec.[65]

"The Babcock Model describes a mechanism which can explain magnetic and sunspot patterns observed on the Sun."[66]

1. "The start of the 22-year cycle begins with a well-established dipole field component aligned along the solar rotational axis. The field lines tend to be held by the highly conductive solar plasma of the solar surface."[66]
2. "The solar surface plasma rotation rate is different at different latitudes, and the rotation rate is 20 percent faster at the equator than at the poles (one rotation every 27 days). Consequently, the magnetic field lines are wrapped by 20 percent every 27 days."[66]
3. "After many rotations, the field lines become highly twisted and bundled, increasing their intensity, and the resulting buoyancy lifts the bundle to the solar surface, forming a bipolar field that appears as two spots, being kinks in the field lines."[66]
4. "The sunspots result from the strong local magnetic fields in the solar surface that exclude the light-emitting solar plasma and appear as darkened spots on the solar surface."[66]
5. "The leading spot of the bipolar field has the same polarity as the solar hemisphere, and the trailing spot is of opposite polarity. The leading spot of the bipolar field tends to migrate towards the equator, while the trailing spot of opposite polarity migrates towards the solar pole of the respective hemisphere with a resultant reduction of the solar dipole moment. This process of sunspot formation and migration continues until the solar dipole field reverses (after about 11 years)."[66]
6. "The solar dipole field, through similar processes, reverses again at the end of the 22-year cycle."[66]
7. "The magnetic field of the spot at the equator sometimes weakens, allowing an influx of coronal plasma that increases the internal pressure and forms a magnetic bubble which may burst and produce an ejection of coronal mass, leaving a coronal hole with open field lines. Such a coronal mass ejections are a source of the high-speed solar wind."[66]
8. "The fluctuations in the bundled fields convert magnetic field energy into plasma heating, producing emission of electromagnetic radiation as intense ultraviolet (UV) and X-rays."[66]

## Solar winds

"Energetic photons, ions and electrons from the solar wind, together with galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays, constantly bombard surfaces of planets, planetary satellites, dust particles, comets and asteroids."[1]

"An alternative theory is based on electromagnetic heating during an episode of strong solar wind from the early proto-Sun when our star experienced a T Tauri phase, as predicted by modern stellar astrophysics."[67]

## Interplanetary medium

"[I]nterplanetary space ... is a stormy and sometimes very violent environment permeated by energetic particles and radation constantly emanating from the Sun."[1]

## Heliospheres

Def. the "region of space where interstellar medium is blown away by solar wind; the boundary, heliopause, is often considered the edge of the Solar System"[68] is called the heliosphere.

"The heliosphere is a bubble in space "blown" into the interstellar medium (the hydrogen and helium gas that permeates the galaxy) by the solar wind. Although electrically neutral atoms from interstellar volume can penetrate this bubble, virtually all of the material in the heliosphere emanates from the Sun itself."[69]

"The point where the solar wind slows down is the termination shock".[69] Further out "is the heliosheath area ... As of June 2011, the heliosheath area is thought to be filled with magnetic bubbles (each about 1 AU wide), creating a "foamy zone".[70][69]

## Electron winds

As of December 5, 2011, "Voyager 1 is about ... 18 billion kilometers ... from the [S]un [but] the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere ... the outward speed of the solar wind had diminished to zero in April 2010 ... inward pressure from interstellar space is compacting [the magnetic field] ... Voyager has detected a 100-fold increase in the intensity of high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from outside ... [while] the [solar] wind even blows back at us."[55]

## Heliopauses

"[T]he point where the interstellar medium and solar wind pressures balance is called the heliopause".[69]

"[T]he point where the interstellar medium, traveling in the opposite direction, slows down as it collides with the heliosphere is the bow shock".[69]

## Local hot bubbles

The Local Hot Bubble is hot X-ray emitting gas within the Local Bubble pictured as an artist's impression. Credit: NASA.

The 'local hot bubble' is a "hot X-ray emitting plasma within the local environment of the Sun."[71] "This coronal gas fills the irregularly shaped local void of matter (McCammon & Sanders 1990) - frequently called the Local Hot Bubble (LHB)."[71]

## Recent history

The recent history period dates from around 1,000 b2k to present. The beginning of the search for X-ray sources from above the Earth's atmosphere is on August 5, 1948, 12:07 GMT.[72] A US Army (formerly German) V-2 rocket as part of Project Hermes is launched from White Sands Proving Grounds. The first solar X-rays are recorded by T. Burnight.[73] After detecting X-ray photons from the Sun in the course of the rocket flight, T. Burnight wrote, “The sun is assumed to be the source of this radiation although radiation of wave-length shorter than 4 angstroms would not be expected from theoretical estimates of black body radiation from the solar corona.”[74]

## Hypotheses

1. A plasma object has at least 2 % electrons or positive ions per total number of particles.
2. The source of electrons to bombard the Sun is external to the Sun.

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