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Hot Answer to a Solar Mystery

Compared to the surface, the sun's atmosphere is blazing hot. So what's heating it?

RELATED TAGS: STARS, SOLAR SYSTEM
sun
The sun’s surface is hot, sure — almost 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit — but the solar atmosphere, or corona, is somehow 4 million degrees. What gives? In April, scientists announced the main reason: small bursts of magnetic energy called nanoflares, which temporarily heat pockets of gas to 20 million degrees. “The sun’s surface is much like a pot of hot oil on the stove,” says NASA solar scientist James Klimchuk. “Hot oil rises, spreads out horizontally, co...
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