Posted: February 24th, 2023
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The Sun is comprised of a variety of fascinating parts. From its gaseous core to the layers of the atmosphere which are only visible to the naked eye while the photosphere is hidden during a solar eclipse, the composition of the Sun is interesting at the very least. Despite being an “ordinary” star, the Sun has great purpose for our planet from shaping the weather, ocean currents, and photosynthesis which makes plant life viable.
Life on Earth has its positives, but a visit to the Sun would be an out of this world experience. If I were to visit, I would travel to the photosphere, an outer layer of the Sun. The photosphere is in between the core and atmosphere, and is the deepest visible portion of the Sun. This area of the Sun is what provides that characteristic yellow color. Despite having a thickness of nearly 400 km, the photosphere is not truly a surface, as the sun is not solid. The thermal columns of the convection zone are visible in the photosphere, giving it a boiling appearance.
A primary reason for my visit is because this is the area where sunspots, solar cycles, coronal mass ejections solar flares, and solar prominences take shape. These wide range of solar activities have a variety of impacts on both the Sun and its planets, while we have some understanding of the activity, we still have much to learn. For example coronal mass ejections are caused by shifts in the suns magnetic field and often occur in areas with sunspots (when intense magnetic activity in the convection zone ruptures a thermal column, a sun spot forms.), yet we don’t understand how the two related. The aspect of the photosphere that I find most interesting is solar flares. Solar flares occur when sunspots are formed, the explosive power of this process opens a connection between the Suns outer layer and interior. I would love to see all of this solar activity up close and have a view of both the internal and external workings of the Sun. This allows for ions, atoms, and electrons, along with solar weather caused by solar activity, to reach Earth. From satellite activity to atmospheric disturbances, this can have a wide range of impacts on Earth. Solar flares have been the topic of a variety of films from The Knowing to Solar Flare and beyond. I would love to study the impacts of solar flares on Earth, particularly our telecommunications systems.
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