Could this be the first sighted nanoflare?

Date:23 December 2020 Author: Leila Stein

Researchers have observed what they believe is a “nanoflare,” which is thought to heat solar corona.

A new study shows the full l lifecycle of a putative nanoflare and captured it.

“They’re extremely difficult to observe,” Shah Bahauddin, Research Faculty at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and lead author of the study told NASA.

Telescopes struggle to see these tiny brief moments and even just seeing a flash is not considered a true sighting.

“We know from theory what we should look for – what fingerprint a nanoflare would leave,” Bahauddin said.

Bahauddin stumbled across his finding, without initially intending to study nanoflares. Initially he began to study some tiny bright loops before he noticed flickering below the sun’s corona.

“I thought maybe the loops made the surrounding atmosphere a bit hotter,” he said. “I never thought that it would make so much energy that it might actually propel hot plasma to the corona and heat it up.”

After this he worked for years running simulations to try and match these unusual observations. He finally observed the process of the nanoflare in a 20-second clip using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

However, he still doesn’t want to call what was observed a nanoflare.

“Nobody actually knows because nobody has seen it before,” Bahauddin said. “It’s an educated guess, let’s say.”

Picture: NASA

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