NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has observed 'surfer'' waves just the size of the United States rolling through the atmosphere of the Sun.
The finding may hold clues as to how energy moves through Sun's atmosphere, known as the corona, and help solve an enduring mystery of why the corona is thousands of times hotter than originally expected.
"One of the biggest questions about the solar corona is the heating mechanism," said solar physicist Leon Ofman of NASA''s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and Catholic University, Washington.
"The corona is a thousand times hotter than the sun''s visible surface, but what heats it up is not well-understood. People have suggested that waves like this might cause turbulence which cause heating, but now we have direct evidence of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves," he added.
Ofman and his colleague Barbara Thompson spotted these waves in images taken on April 8, 2010. These were some of the first images caught on camera by the SDO, a solar telescope with outstanding resolution.
"The waves we''re seeing in these images are so small," said Thompson. "But they''re only the size of the United States," she said.
Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities usually occur when two fluids of different densities or different speeds flow by each other. In the case of the solar atmosphere, which is made of a very hot and electrically charged gas called plasma, the two flows come from an expanse of plasma erupting off the sun''s surface as it passes by plasma that is not erupting.
To confirm this description, the team developed a computer model to see what takes place in the region. Their model showed that these conditions could indeed lead to giant surfing waves rolling through the corona.
Ofman said that despite the fact that Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities have been spotted in other places, there was no guarantee they''d be spotted in the sun''s corona, which is permeated with magnetic fields.
Seeing the big waves suggests they can cascade down to smaller forms of turbulence too.
Scientists believe that the friction created by turbulence – the simple rolling of material over and around itself – could help add heating energy to the corona.
The team''s results appeared online in Astrophysical Journal Letters on May 19, 2011 and will be published in the journal on June 10.
Kepler telescope reveals details of more than 200 newly-found planets in Milky Way
"Today, it is our pleasure to officially announce the newest member of our 737 family, the 737 MAX 10," Kevin McAllister, head of the company's commercial aviation division, told journalists as the Paris Air Show got under way.
The Twilight Express Mizukaze departed Osaka on its maiden trip with around 30 well-heeled passengers on a journey to the far reaches of Japan's main island.
Google has launched a website to help you find the Qibla – the direction of prayer.
Bilkent University students designed Arbo which can babysit and notify of gas leaks in the house
The refurbished Dragon cargo capsule soared into space aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 5:07 pm (2107 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The deal enables GE's "Geneva" to communicate with the Google Assistant, so users can say: "Ok Google, ask Geneva Home to set the oven timer for 10 minutes."
The plane took off from the Siberian city of Irkutsk where the Irkut company is based, said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, writing on Twitter.
A NASA statement described the planet as "a complex, gigantic, turbulent world" that is far different than scientists previously thought.
Scientists have completed initial study in Antarctica to establish Turkey's first base on the continent
According to documents released in March by Wikileaks, US intelligence can hack smartphones, computers and smart, web-connected TVs, to pilot them and eavesdrop.
"IOT home appliances, things that can be used in our everyday lives, our cars, lights, refrigerators, everything like this that is connected can be used and weaponised to spy on us or harm us."
The malware uses a hacking tool known as EternalBlue, which was published last month by an anonymous hacking group called Shadow Brokers, saying it had been obtained from the US National Security Agency.
Firms say they will also focus on developing 5G technology, following recent deal