The Sun is as dynamic as it gets. It can also burp lava lamp-like blobs, according to the latest findings of NASA.
The center of the solar system isn't a stationary ball of light. Millions of years ago, it acted like a hyperactive juvenile
Since 2000, the scientists learned it also emits periodic density structures, which they call blobs.
These blobs, which they liken to those inside lava lamps, packed a density twice as much of the charged particles of solar winds. When the Sun emits them, they can grow up to 500 times the size of the Earth.
They also reach the planet within four days after their release. The Earth's satellites can capture them hitting the planet's magnetic field.
What they don't know are the possible changes that occur when they're still traveling.
Looking Through Old Data
For the study now published
in JGR Space Physics
, they re-examined the data provided by Helios 1 and 2. These were solar probes in the 1970s that orbited the star for about 10 years.
Their closest approach was only 43 million kilometers, but the information they collected was enough to resolve the long-standing question about these solar blobs.
The team was particularly looking for a pattern, and they found five instances from the decades-old data. Each burst lasted for a few minutes to a couple of hours. A cooler wind usually followed the sudden release of dense and hot plasma.
The scientists haven't figured out the reason for the sudden bursts, but it's possible the cause is similar to what triggers the solar storm
. It occurs when there's a tangle in the magnetic field, which can break but eventually recombine.
"We think a similar process is creating the blobs on a much smaller scale — ambient little bursts as opposed to giant explosions," said
Nicholeen Viall, co-author of the study.
Not A Cause For Worry
The potential effects of these solar outbursts may cause panic for the average people, but for the scientists, there's nothing to worry about.
Even the most severe solar storms do not lead to mass extinctions
. This is because of the Earth's magnetic field, which somehow prevents or tempers the impact of the Sun's bursts on the planet.
The scientists, however, believe it may disrupt the communication systems and satellites.
Until then, there's so much the researchers still have to know about the planet's closest massive star. The next valuable data may be from Parker Solar Probe, which has already made the closest approach
since its liftoff. The information can confirm what the scientists now know.