University of Colorado, Boulder | 2019 Jun 11
Physicists Loren Matilsky and Juri Toomre developed a computer simulation of the sun’s interior as a means of capturing the inner roiling turmoil of the star. In the process, the team spotted something unexpected: On rare occasions, the sun’s internal dynamics may jolt out of their normal routines and switch to an alternate state—bit like a superhero trading the cape and cowl for civilian clothes.
While the findings are only preliminary, Matilsky said, they may line up with real observations of the sun dating back to the 19th century.
He added that the existence of such a solar alter-ego could provide physicists with new clues to the processes that govern the sun’s internal clock—a cycle in which the sun switches from periods of high activity to low activity about once every 11 years.
“We don’t know what is setting the cycle period for the sun or why some cycles are more violent than others,” said Matilsky, a graduate student at JILA. “Our ultimate goal is to map what we’re seeing in the model to the sun’s surface so that we can then make predictions.” ...