New research is providing hints about what’s going on in the sun’s atmosphere
© 2017 Miloslav Druckmüller, Peter Aniol and Shadia Habbal
LEESBURG, Va. — Astronomers watching the 2017 solar eclipse from the ground and from the air witnessed new, tantalizing features of the sun’s outer atmosphere.
Three teams have recently presented their first science results from the Great American Eclipse. Combined, the findings could help disentangle lingering solar puzzles, such as how bursts of plasma leave the sun, why the outer atmosphere, the solar corona, is so well organized and what is the nature of the corona’s magnetic field.
While thousands of eclipse watchers gathered across the country last August armed with special glasses and cameras, solar physicists Adalbert Ding and Shadia Habbal and their colleagues set up a specially designed spectrometer in Mitchell, Ore. (That was one of four sites from which their team monitored the eclipse.) The team had used an earlier version of the instrument, which takes in specific wavelengths of light that can trace different coronal