Thursday, January 6, 2011

Plasma Jets Key to Enduring Solar Mystery

It's been a mystery for more than half a century: why, in the short distance from the Sun's surface to its corona, or outer atmosphere, does the temperature leap from a few thousand to a few million degrees? The answer, researchers say, might lie in hot jets of plasma erupting from the Sun's surface.

"It's truly a breakthrough in the longstanding puzzle of how the corona gets so hot," says Rob Rutten, a solar physics expert at Utrecht University in the Netherlands who was not involved with the work. "The jets behave like bullets shot upwards, causing hot coronal temperature fronts in front of them."

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