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iSGTW Image of the week - Journey to the center of the Sun

Image of the week - Journey to the center of the Sun


Simulations of the action occuring on our Sun shows downflows: plumes of cooler gas that sink away from the surface of the Sun.
Image produced using VAPOR

Like many 2000 yotta-ton balls of hot gas, the Sun isn't exactly 100 percent stable.

In fact, its outer third is constantly on the move, a churning jumble of convective motion, driven by huge heat production in its interior and heat loss from its outer regions.

And just as hot gas rises, cool gas sinks, resulting in the formation of downflow plumes: currents of cooler gas that move towards the solar interior.

These plumes play a crucial role in the dynamics of the convective flows occurring all over the solar surface.

Very high resolution computer simulations suggest that these plumes interact to form larger convective scales, and that the cool gas sinks all the way to the base of the highly stratified solar convection zone.

Their coherency suggests such downflows play a key role in the transport of heat, momentum and magnetic field into the overshoot region below: the region thought to be the seat of the solar dynamo.

Scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder, U.S., are studying these phenomenon using visualizations made possible by a visual analysis tool called VAPOR-Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere and Solar Researchers.

The VAPOR software was developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory in collaboration with U.C. Davis and Ohio State University. NCAR are part of TeraGrid, whose wide-area file system, ample bandwidth and capacity are uniquely suited to VAPOR's multi-resolution data format.

VAPOR is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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