Astronomers Can’t Explain Extraordinarily Bright, High-Energy Lights Coming From The Sun



Astronomers can’t explain why there are some extraordinarily bright and very high energy lights emanating from the sun, calling it “completely unprecedented.”

These bright lights are gamma rays that produce energy that is higher than what is expected. Much higher. As in around 1 trillion electron volts or 1 tera electron volt (TeV), similar to the energy of the particles that are smashed together at the Large Hadron Collider, according to New Scientist.

…any explanation invoking new particles inside the sun wouldn’t naturally produce variations in the amount of high-energy gamma rays over the course of a solar cycle. For now, how the sun is producing so much high-energy light remains a mystery.

“This is completely unprecedented – people did not think that the sun was going to be this bright in TeV gamma rays,” said Mehr Un Nisa, a postdoctoral research associate at Michigan State University. “This light is a trillion times more energetic than the light from a normal light bulb.”

Nisa and her colleagues discovered these unusual bursts of energy after studying more than six years of data from the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) observatory in Mexico.

“The sun is more surprising than we knew,” said Nisa. “We thought we had this star figured out, but that’s not the case.”

Nisa told MSU Today that they have now learned that the energies of the sun’s rays can go up to nearly 10 TeV.

“When we first saw it, we were like, ‘We definitely messed this up. The sun cannot be this bright at these energies,'” said Nisa.

The researchers’ finding were recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

“Given what we know about the sun’s atmosphere, how dense it is, what those magnetic fields are like, the numbers don’t add up to get this amount of high-energy radiation,” said Nisa. “There are exotic ideas – like dark matter being captured in the sun that can annihilate to produce particles that could eventually be emitted in the form of gamma rays – however those are just ideas at the moment.”

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