UK researchers uses 1m Solar Telescope telescope to determine that Sun’s magnetic field is 10 times stronger than thought

Published: April 3, 2019

According to a new collaborative study by the Queen’s University Belfast and Aberystwyth University in the UK, the sun’s magnetic field is ten times stronger than previously thought. Using the Swedish one-metre Solar Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in the Canary Islands, David Kuridze studied a particularly strong solar flare which erupted near the surface of the Sun on September 10, 2017. A combination of favourable conditions and an element of luck enabled the team to determine the strength of the flare’s magnetic field with unprecedented accuracy. The researchers believe the findings have the potential to change our understanding of the processes that happen in the Sun’s immediate atmosphere. The study found that the sun’s corona extends millions of kilometres above the surface, measuring 1,400,000 kilometres across — 109 times larger than Earth — and 150,000,000 km from Earth. Solar flares appear as bright flashes and occur when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. These solar flares can lead to storms which, if they hit Earth, form the northern lights — the Aurora Borealis. They can also disrupt communications satellites and GPS systems.