Solar measuring instruments are the future, says Mark Kermode, professor of astronomy at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Solar measurements can tell us things like the sun’s mass and the distance to Earth, and also tell us how fast the sun is moving.
But that’s about it.
And while these instruments can provide some useful information, they don’t provide the full picture.
Kermod is one of a handful of researchers working to make solar measurements that could provide answers to some of the most pressing questions in astronomy: How big is the sun?
What is its average speed?
And, most importantly, is it a planet or a dwarf planet?
Kermode and his team have developed an ambitious new solar measuring instrument that could make these measurements.
Called a coronagraph, the instrument consists of a coronascent mirror that emits a tiny light that shines on a target surface.
If the light hits a suitable surface, it heats up, emitting a beam of electrons that can be detected.
The beam of charged electrons, called an excitation beam, then travels through the material at a specific speed, which is called the “chase speed.”
This speed, or “photon speed,” is very important for understanding how the solar system works.
It tells us how bright the sun should be, for instance.
And it can tell you when the solar surface is about to be destroyed by a solar storm.
Kernod, however, has been working on developing the coronagraph for years.
He wanted to use a coronasar to make the measurements needed to understand the solar wind, which has been observed to be the primary source of solar energy.
To do that, he needed to know exactly how much the coronascence light would change over time.
So Kermodes team created a coronacoustic instrument.
The instrument consists, in a nutshell, of a laser that emits the light at different frequencies, and an electronic system that generates the beam of electron beams.
By tuning the laser frequency to the light beam, the researchers could tune the frequency of the excitation beams so they would emit a beam at a different frequency than the one they’re looking for.
In this way, the coronacoustics system can detect the amount of light emitted by the solar coronasent, which helps to answer questions about the solar process.
The team also developed a new way to measure the speed of the solar particle, called a photometry.
This measure is very sensitive to how fast particles move through space, and it allows the team to measure a number of important things about the process that can help answer the big questions about solar processes.
“The photometry can tell when the coronasar is getting hit by a coronal mass ejection (CME) or solar wind storm,” Kermoder says.
“If the photometry is too sensitive, the sun might not be a planet at all.”
The photometry could also help astronomers determine the mass of a planet.
“It will be important in the coming years to know what the Sun is made of, and we can do this with our coronacorns,” Kernodes said.
Kermodes and his collaborators will present their work to the American Astronomical Society’s Scientific Sessions on Astronomy in Pasadena, California, on July 27.
They will present the results in the July 23 and 25 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
For the next few weeks, they will present results from their coronacorn-based photometry in the journal Science.
“We hope to use the results of this work to get us to a place where we can use the coronar as a test bed for new solar measurements,” Kedrich says.