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Using Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), scientists have finally identified the Sun’s predicted giant jet streams.
These large flows, bigger than any flow structures previously identified, might help explain the Sun’s rotation (which is faster at the equator than at the poles), its magnetic field, and its production of sunspots. Not surprisingly, however, the models and data do not match exactly:
Mark Miesch, a physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says the new study confirms modelling work he and others have done on giant convective cells4. There are, however, some differences between what the models suggest and what Hathaway’s team observed. For instance, the models indicate that giant cells should align themselves from north to south near the Sun’s equator, an arrangement that isn’t seen in the new data. In fact, points out solar physicist Junwei Zhao of Stanford University in California, most of the giant cells were seen at high latitudes, and they need to be spotted at lower latitudes as well. “Whether it will convince the community remains to be seen,” says Zhao.