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Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun ||EXPLAINED||


Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: Relevance

  • GS 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.


Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: Context

  • Recently, scientists led by astronomers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), have unravelled the science behind the jets of plasma that occur just about everywhere in the sun’s chromosphere.

सूर्य के ऊपर घटित होने वाले प्लाज्मा के जेट || व्याख्यायित ||

Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: Basics first

  • What is jet of plasma: It is the fourth state of matter consisting of electrically charged particles.
  • What is sun’s chromosphere: It is the atmospheric layer just above the Sun’s visible surface.
  • What is photosphere: The photosphere is the deepest layer of the Sun that we can observe directly.


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About jets of plasma

  • Plasma jets, or spicules, appear as thin grass-like plasma structures that constantly shoot up from the surface and are then brought down by gravity.
  • The amount of energy and momentum that these spicules can carry is of fundamental interest in solar and plasma astrophysics.
  • The processes by which plasma is supplied to the solar wind, and the solar atmosphere is heated to a million degrees Celsius, still remain a puzzle.


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Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: The experiment

  • In trying to explore the underlying physics of spicule dynamics, the team turned to an audio speaker.
  • A bass speaker responds to excitation at low frequencies like the rumbling sounds heard in movies.
  • When a liquid is placed above such a speaker and the music is turned on, the free surface of the liquid becomes unstable beyond a particular frequency and starts vibrating.
  • A beautiful example of “Faraday excitation” observed in nature is when droplets of water splashes on the back of a partially submerged male alligator during mating display.
  • However, a fluid like paint or shampoo will result in unbroken jets when excited on a speaker since its long polymer chains give it directionality.
  • The authors of the article realized that the physics underlying these paint jets must be analogous to the solar plasma jets.


Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: Key findings

  • Scientists found that the physics underlying paint jets when excited on a speaker is analogous to the solar plasma jets.
  • The scientists elaborated that the plasma right below the visible solar surface (photosphere) is perpetually in a state of convection, much like boiling water in a vessel heated at the bottom.
  • This is ultimately powered by the nuclear energy released in the hot-dense core.
  • The convection serves almost periodic but strong kicks to the plasma in the solar chromosphere, the shallow semi-transparent layer right above the visible solar disk.
  • The chromosphere is 500 times lighter than the plasma in the photosphere.
  • Therefore, these strong kicks from the bottom, not unlike alligator bellowing, shoot the chromospheric plasma outward at ultrasonic speeds in the form of thin columns or spicules.


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Jets of Plasma Occurring over Sun: Significance

  • Spicules come in all sizes and speeds. The existing consensus in the solar community has been that the physics behind the short spicules is different from that of taller and faster spicules.
  • The study challenges this widespread belief to show that solar convection can by itself form all kinds of jets – short as well as tall.


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