Giant Convection Cells Found on the Sun

Watts Up With That?

NASA’s Dr. David Hathaway has just published a new paper, and it has advanced solar science. He’s found something they’ve been looking for a long time; long lived convection cells. Massive, long-lasting plasma flows 15 times the diameter of Earth transport heat from the sun’s depths to its surface, according to a study in the Dec. 6 Science. The finding supports a decades-old explanation of why the sun rotates fastest at its equator.

Convection motions within the Sun transport heat from its interior to its surface. The hot regions are seen as granular (∼1000 kilometers across) and supergranular (∼30,000 kilometers across) cells in the Sun. Using data from the Helioseismic Magnetic Imager on the Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hathaway et al. (p. 1217) found evidence for even larger cells that have long been predicted by theory but not unambiguously detected. The flows associated with these giant cells transport angular…

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