An ancient mystery about the Sun may save the planet from devastating geomagnetic storms

Credit – Nasa Solar Dynamics Observatory

A new study led by the University of Sydney in Australia and involving US specialists could provide a robust theoretical framework to help improve our understanding of the Sun’s internal magnetic dynamo, which helps drive space weather. close to Earth.

The solar dynamo is the physical process that generates the Sun’s magnetic field: basically, it is a natural electrical generator that works inside the Sun, producing electric currents and creating a magnetic field. What do we know about its influence and its characteristics?

Although the impact of the dynamics of the Sun’s internal magnetic field on solar emissions is known, it is not yet clear how these emanations occur and it has been impossible to predict when they will occur. The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

A faster and more intense rotation
The focus of the discovery is the identification of new parameters of rapid rotation that influence the magnetic dynamics of the Sun: if it were possible to properly account for these parameters of rotation, the new model of the researchers would fit the data extracted from observations and could improve dramatically. our understanding of solar electromagnetic behavior.

One of the great mysteries around the Sun is the so-called “convective enigma.” It has been indicated that one of the solar regions is the convection zone: it is an ocean 200,000 kilometers deep composed of a turbulent fluid plasma and with abysmal temperatures, which occupies 30 percent of the diameter of the star in its face. Exterior.

Current theories hold that the largest eddies and storms occupy the convection zone, in the form of giant circular areas. However, these sectors have never been found or identified with precision, remaining in the theoretical universe. This great unknown is the main subject of the aforementioned «convective enigma».

According to a press release, the new study provides a possible answer to this great mystery. According to the scientists, the convection zone is not divided into circular areas, but into tall rotating cigar-like columns, with a magnitude of around 30,000 kilometers in diameter. The change in shape originates from a much stronger influence from the Sun’s rotation, which would have a much greater impact than previously thought.

Predicting geomagnetic storms
Taking into account that a more intense rotation can completely control and change the solar dynamo, experts argue that if it were possible to discover its operation in detail, we would be closer to understanding the phenomena that cause geomagnetic storms and being able to predict them.

It is worth remembering that in the most extreme cases, solar geomagnetic storms can bathe the Earth with strong pulses of radiation, capable of destroying the communications and electronic infrastructure that is vital in a globalized scenario.

In this way, if it were possible to measure in detail the intensity of the Sun’s rotation, which takes place in its entirety in a period of approximately 28 days, not only would the mystery around the convection zone be solved, but it would also exist a concrete possibility to “track” the emergence of geomagnetic storms, anticipating their strength and the moment of their emergence.

Rotation suppresses giant-scale solar convection. Geoffrey M. Vasil, Keith Julien and Nicholas A. Featherstone. PNAS (2021) .DOI: https: //