The surface of the Sun is in constant motion. Bubbles of hot gas bigger than Earth rise to the top, while cooler gas sinks from sight. The gas at different latitudes rotates at different speeds. And magnetic storms pop up, triggering explosions of particles and energy.
All of this activity creates sound waves that travel far below the surface. By measuring these vibrations, scientists get a look at conditions deep inside the Sun.
One particular vibration appears to get a "kick" from the powerful explosions known as solar flares.
This vibration has a low frequency -- like ocean waves breaking ashore every five minutes. By studying observations from an orbiting solar observatory, researchers in Denmark found that the vibrations sometimes get a lot stronger -- like ocean waves that get taller.
The waves get stronger when solar flares explode above the surface of the Sun. The flares erupt when the Sun's magnetic field gets tangled, then snaps like a rubber band.
The scientists aren't sure how solar flares strengthen the five-minute vibrations. But they hope that looking for similar vibrations in other stars will reveal when those stars are producing their own flares -- information that will help scientists better understand the workings of all stars.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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