MRI imaging techniques increase understanding of the Sun's interior plasma motions and convection currents.
Scientists from NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and its Department of Physics, Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute, and NASA, have come together to produce MRI images of the Sun's internal plasma motions which significantly increase our understanding of how convection currents progress from deep within its structure to the surface. As the Sun is opaque, this convection is not normally observable. It also poses significant questions regarding our understanding of sunspot formation and magnetic field generation.
The research, undertaken from images taken from a 16-million pixel camera, produced readings which seemed to show that "convective velocities are 20 - 100 times weaker than current theoretical estimates." (1) This was done by deducing the motion of the hidden plasma currents beneath the surface of the Sun from the images of movements from its surface. Shravan Hanasoge, an associate research scholar in geosciences at Princeton University and a visiting scholar at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, said the results that if they "are indeed that slow in the Sun, then the most widely accepted theory concerning the generation of solar magnetic field is broken, leaving us with no compelling theory to explain its generation of magnetic fields and the need to overhaul our understanding of the physics of the Sun's interior."
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(1) Anomalously Weak Solar Convection, Shravan M. Hanasoge and Thomas L. Duvall, Jr. and Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, 14/06/2012.