Researchers from New York University, Abu Dhabi and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research have discovered a set of new vorticity (spinning) waves coming from the Sun that move much faster than can be predicted with existing theories. The high-frequency retrograde (HFR) waves detected after 25 analysing 25 years of space and ground-based data moves in the opposite direction of the Sun’s rotation and appears as a pattern of vortices (fluid-like revolving motions) on the surface of the Sun and move at three times the speed predicted by current theory.
The researchers’ observations have been published in the Nature Astronomy journal. The unknown nature of these HFR waves makes it difficult to interpret and place them within the current context of solar dynamics and makes them difficult to explain.
The researchers tested three hypotheses that try to explain the waves: that they are caused by magnetic fields within the sun; that they come from gravity waves in the sun; and that they occur due to the compression of plasma. But none of the three hypotheses held up well against the data on the HFR waves.
But curiously enough, the behaviour of these waves is very similar to a type of wave found in Earth’s oceans known as Rossby Waves, which also travel much quicker than researchers can explain.
“The very existence of HFR modes and their origin is a true mystery and may allude to exciting physics at play,” said Shravan Hanasoge, a co-author of the paper, to EurekAlert, a science news service. “It has the potential to shed insight on the otherwise unobservable interior of the Sun.”
With the lack of any convincing explanation for these HFR waves, researchers have concluded in the article that “there are evidently missing, or poorly constrained, ingredients in the standard models of the Sun, and determining the mechanism responsible for HFR modes will deepen our understanding of the interiors of the Sun and stars.”
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