Solar Activity

By: Briana Bell

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Sun's Core

The source from all of the Sun's energy is the core. In the core of a star the intense heat destroys the internal structure of an atom and consequently all atoms are broken down into their constituent parts. As a result neutrons leave the core fairly quickly. The protons remain in the core and drive the reactions which fuel the Sun.

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Radiative Zone

The Sun's radiative zone is the section of the solar interior between the innermost core and the outer convective zone. The radiative zone is the layer of the sun where energy is primarily transported toward the exterior by means of radiative diffusion and thermal conduction, other than convection. In the radiative zone, energy generated by nuclear fusion in the core moves outward as electromagnetic radiation.
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Convection Zone

The convection zone of the sun is a layer that is unstable to convection. In the convection zone, hot plasma rises, cools as it nears the surface, and falls to be heated and rise again. Energy is primarily transported by convection in this region. Once out of the radiation zone the energy, originally produced in the core, requires a new transport mechanism to continue its journey to the surface. This new method of transport is required because outside of the radiation zone the temperature is relatively cool.
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Photosphere

The photosphere is the visible surface of the Sun that we are most familiar with. Features of the photosphere layer includes the dark sunspots, the bright faculae, and granules. We can also measure the flow of material in the photosphere using the Doppler effect. These measurements reveal additional features such as supergranules as well as large scale flows and a pattern of waves and oscillations.
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Chromosphere

The chromosphere, which is sphere shaped, is the second of the three main layers in the Sun's atmosphere and is roughly 2,000 kilometers deep. It sits just above the photosphere and just below the solar transition region. Features of the photosphere include filaments, spicules, and periodic oscillations.
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Corona

A corona is an aura of plasma that surrounds the sun and other celestial bodies. The Sun's corona extends millions of kilometres into space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but it is also observable with a coronagraph. The Corona is the Sun's outer atmosphere. It is visible during total eclipses of the Sun as a pearly white crown surrounding the Sun. The corona displays a variety of features including streamers, plumes, and loops.
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Sunspots

Sunspots are temporary phenomena on the photosphere of the Sun that appear visibly as dark spots compared to surrounding regions. They correspond to concentrations of magnetic field flux that inhibit convection and result in reduced surface temperature compared to the surrounding photosphere.
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Prominence

A prominence is a large, bright, gaseous feature extending outward from the Sun's surface, often in a loop shape. Prominences are anchored to the Sun's surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun's corona.
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Flare

A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. Radiation is emitted across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves at the long wavelength end, through optical emission to x-rays and gamma rays at the short wavelength end. A solar flare is a sudden flash of brightness observed near the Sun's surface.
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Aurora

An aurora, sometimes referred to as a polar light, is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions.
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