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The Origin of a Strange “Heartbeat-Like” Radio Signal From Our Sun

An illustration of a heartbeat radio signal. YAYIMAGES.

The mysterious origin of a solar radio burst, similar to that of a heartbeat, has been explained by scientists.

The more we explore the vastness of the universe, the more fascinated we are with what we find. But we need not explore faraway solar systems to become fascinated with what we find. Sometimes, it is enough to look within our cosmic neighborhood. Researchers have discovered a mysterious source of heartbeat-like radio bursts emitting from the Sun. According to a research paper, astronomers have located radio bursts with a pattern resembling a heartbeat coming from the sun. This beating pattern is important for understanding why energy is released and dissipated in our star’s atmosphere.

The importance of the heartbeat signal

As explained by astronomers, the heartbeat signal is important since it will help shed light on the process behind solar flares. The paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, describes how astronomers uncovered the source of radio signal emitting from inside a solar flare more than 5,000 kilometers above the surface of the Sun. Scientists have associated intense bursts of radio waves from the sun with solar flares.

Previous analysis has revealed some of these feature signals with patterns that seem to repeat. Speaking about the discovery, the study’s co-author, Sijie Yu from NJIT, explained that “this beating pattern is important for understanding how energy is released and is dissipated in the Sun’s atmosphere during these incredibly powerful explosions on the Sun.”

Repetitive, heartbeat-like signals

However, the origin of these repetitive, heartbeat-like signals, which experts call quasi-periodic pulsations, has long been a mystery among the scientific community. The discovery was made after astronomers collected data from a solar flare that took place in July 2017 using the NJIT’s radio telescope, the Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array, or EOVSA. This observation station spies on the sun at different frequencies and is extremely sensitive to radio radiation emitted by the Sun’s atmosphere. These high-energy electrons are energized in solar flares.

What did observational data reveal?

The data of the observations revealed a radio burst with an odd repeating signal every 10 to 20 seconds, and it essentially looks like a heartbeat. As explained by the lead author of the study Yuankun Kou, data revealed strong pulses o our sun stretching more than 25,000 kilometers across the solar flares eruptions core. It is there where the magnetic field lines approach one another, break and then reconnect, producing intense energy that ends up powering the solar flare.

According to scientists, while such repeating signals are not uncommon for radio bursts from the sun, it was unexpected to find a different signal source, magnetic islands, or bubble-like structures on the Sun, which tend to move toward the flaring region occasionally.

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