Sun may be slightly smaller than previously thought: Study – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Recent research by a team of astronomers has introduced a potential revision to our understanding of the Sun’s size. The study, currently undergoing peer review, suggests that the radius of the Sun may be slightly smaller than previously thought, with a reduction of a few hundredths of a per cent, reported Science Alert.
Astronomers Masao Takata from the University of Tokyo and Douglas Goughfrom Cambridge University conducted the study, utilizing sound waves generated and trapped within the Sun’s interior, known as ‘pressure’ or p-modes.These resonating sound waves provide insights into pressure changes occurring within the Sun.
While the adjustment in size may seem minor, it holds significant implications for our comprehension of the Sun’s characteristics. P-modes, described as dynamically more robust by astrophysicists, offer a unique perspective on the Sun’s interior compared to other oscillating sound waves.
The analogy of the Sun as a ringing bell helps to understand the constant seismic activity within, likened to a bell being perpetually struck by many tiny sand grains. The resulting millions of oscillating sound waves, or ‘modes,’ can be remotely measured by scientists.
Focusing on p-modes allows researchers to glean the ‘spherical harmonics’ of the Sun, as these waves, produced by pressure fluctuations in the solar interior, travel outward, hit the surface (photosphere), reflect inward, and bend as they traverse turbulent plasma, creating a ricochet effect.
The study’s findings challenge previous assumptions about the Sun’s size and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of its internal dynamics. As research in astrophysics continues to evolve, these new insights into the Sun’s structure and behaviour offer valuable additions to our knowledge of this crucial celestial body.

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