Why can the temperature of the sun’s corona reach millions of degrees centigrade? Chinese scientists tell you the answer

This paper takes part in the series essay competition of “great science” of Recordunkown.

The sun is a celestial body that we can see every day, and the sun is also the basis of most life on earth. Without the sun, the creatures on the earth’s surface can’t survive, let alone human beings. The earth can become a planet of life, also has a close relationship with the sun, so in a sense, the sun is the mother of life on earth.


For the sun, since ancient times, there are countless people have different feelings for it, especially in ancient times, people have a blind worship of the sun, the sun as a totem. When we enter the era of science and technology, with astronomical observation equipment, we have more knowledge of the sun.

Now we all know that the sun is a star, and it is not special. There are hundreds of billions of stars like the sun in the Milky way, while there are countless in the whole universe. The biggest characteristic of the sun is that it can emit dazzling energy rays. It is like a flaming fireball. People in ancient times did not know why the sun could burn. In the age of science and technology, scientists have finally figured out the essence of solar combustion: nuclear fusion reaction.

The sun itself has a lot of hydrogen, and in the center of its interior is a nuclear fusion plant, where hydrogen fusion takes place. Photons and other energy produced by nuclear fusion reach the surface of the sun after a long time, forming a spectacular burning scene. Although we initially know that the burning of the sun is the internal nuclear fusion reaction, our knowledge of the sun is still very little, and there are too many mysteries waiting for human to solve.


Among the many mysteries of the sun, the mystery of coronal temperature is one of the eight unsolved mysteries in contemporary astronomy. We all know that the temperature of the sun’s surface is only 6000 degrees Celsius, which is not high. If it is just such a temperature, the human sun detector can be closer to the sun’s surface for detection, and even the possibility of landing on the sun’s surface for a short time is not ruled out.

However, when the detector is really close to the sun, it is found that the real high temperature of the sun is not the surface of the sun, but the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, where the temperature can reach millions of degrees Celsius. It is precisely because the temperature of the corona is so high that the detector can not get close to the sun at all, so it can only observe from a distance. Why is the surface temperature of the sun about 6000 degrees centigrade, while the corona can reach millions of degrees centigrade?


In 2012, the problem of coronal heating was listed as one of the eight unsolved mysteries in contemporary astronomy by science. It has always been a mystery that scientists want to understand. In August 2018, NASA launched the Parker solar probe, whose main task is to get closer to the sun, and then conduct data acquisition and Exploration on the mystery of the sun’s coronal temperature.

Before Parker Solar Probe really solved the mystery of coronal high temperature, the international scientific research team led by Chinese scientists published the latest research report on November 14, which provides a powerful explanation for revealing the long-standing mystery that the coronal temperature is much higher than the surface temperature of the solar photosphere.

Professor Tian Hui of Peking University and his international partners said in a paper published online in the US journal Science on the 14th that the research found that a small-scale magnetic field structure floating from the sun’s interior into the solar atmosphere would produce “magnetic reconnection” when it came into contact with a strong magnetic field network with opposite magnetic polarity, which would speed up the throwing out of the low-level atmosphere and form a magnetic field It forms a burr like jet called a needle.


Magnetic reconnection is a physical process in plasma, which can release huge energy and play an important role in solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other intense solar eruptions. The research team used the 1.6-meter-diameter Goodall telescope of the Great Bear Lake observatory to observe the quiet region of the sun (the region beyond the sunspot and its surrounding spectral spots), and obtained high-quality data on the evolution of the magnetic field in the depth of the photosphere. The observation results provide the most powerful support for the “magnetic reconnection” driving needle.

It’s a common phenomenon that needles are heated to coronal temperature, researchers say. However, the heating mechanism of their outward transport is still unclear, which needs further study. Although Chinese scientists have not completely solved the mystery of coronal high temperature, the related research has taken an important step for the final solution of the mystery of coronal high temperature.


Which celestial body in the solar system is the most mysterious and attractive? I believe many people will not say Mars or other planets, but more people will choose the sun as a star. Yes, the most mysterious object in the solar system is actually the sun. Although we know that it is a star and that it burns by nuclear fusion reaction, we know nothing about its surface and interior.

Because the temperature of the sun’s corona is as high as one million degrees Celsius, our probe can’t get close to the surface, let alone land. Unless we can develop detectors that can withstand the high temperature of millions of degrees Celsius, it is not easy for human beings to develop such high temperature resistant materials.

If the high temperature on the surface of the sun is only 6000 degrees centigrade, maybe soon, the human’s high temperature resistant materials will have a breakthrough, and there will be a way to resist the high temperature on the surface of the sun, so that the detector can land on the surface of the sun. But now faced with millions of high-temperature corona, scientists do not know when such high-temperature materials will appear.


So it may be hundreds of years, thousands of years before scientists develop materials that can withstand the high temperature of millions of degrees Celsius. And if we want to make a breakthrough in the exploration of the sun faster, we need to find another way. In fact, the reason why the temperature difference between the corona and the surface is so great is that scientists hope to solve this mystery and find other ways to cross the corona to the surface of the sun.

Maybe we don’t need materials that can withstand millions of degrees Celsius to travel through the corona. We just need to find out why the temperature of the corona is so high. Only when we are really close to the surface of the sun can we really get a close understanding of the sun and what is inside it? At present, the hydrogen fusion reaction inside the sun is only a possibility put forward by scientists, and there is no definite answer whether it is true or not. There may be other reasons for the mystery of the sun’s burning.


The sun is a star. By understanding the sun and solving the mystery of the sun, we can basically solve the mystery of the star. It will be a leap for human beings to explore the universe. We should know that stars are a common celestial body in the universe, and they are also a very important kind of celestial body in the universe. In the early days of the big bang, stars may be the first to appear, and stars are equivalent to an element processing plant. By processing hydrogen into other elements, the present universe finally came into being.

Three kinds of mysterious and powerful celestial bodies in the universe are evolved from the death of stars, they are white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. Perhaps the mystery of stars is not far away from the mystery of neutron stars and black holes. To solve the mystery of these mysterious celestial bodies is not far away from solving the mystery of the universe. It can be seen that stars have a very high position in the universe, which may be related to the ultimate mystery of the universe.

Guys, what do you think of this? Welcome to leave a message below to discuss and express your opinions.

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