Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares? Scientists analyze sunquakes to pinpoint flare energy source, perhaps predict flare severity — ScienceDaily

Solar flares are violent explosions on the sun that fling out high-energy charged particles, sometimes toward Earth, where they disrupt communications and endanger satellites and astronauts.

But as scientists discovered in 1996, flares can also create seismic activity — sunquakes — releasing impulsive acoustic waves that penetrate deep into the sun’s interior.

While the relationship between solar flares and sunquakes is still a mystery, new findings suggest that these “acoustic transients” — and the surface ripples they generate — can tell us a lot about flares and may someday help us forecast their size and severity.

A team of physicists from the United States, Colombia and Australia has found that part of the acoustic energy released from a flare in 2011 emanated from about 1,000 kilometers beneath the solar surface — the photosphere — and, thus, far beneath the solar flare that triggered the quake.

The results, published Sept. 21

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