The sun is a mysterious star. Now, scientists are unlocking secrets of what's going on inside!
Ahh, the sun...bathing us in brilliant light we couldn't live without. But that beautiful sunlight is also the very reason we know so little about what's going on inside this fascinating star. The light it gives off comes from the six hundred million tons of hydrogen being converted into helium at the sun's core every second. All that energy shines from the sun's surface, an incandescent screen, and scientists couldn't see behind it. That is, until recently.
Thanks to the global oscillation network group, or the GONG program, directed by John Leibacher, scientists have found the sun is making waves in ways they never imagined. Just as waves from an earthquake move through our planet, scientists can measure the solar sound waves that make the surface of the sun vibrate.
With six different sites strategically located around the earth, GONG scientists can measure the sun virtually without pause through a technique called helioseismology. The resulting data tell us tons about the structure, composition, temperature, currents, and nature of the sun, as well as the many effects the sun has on the Earth.
So next time your satellite TV goes out...listen closely...it might just be another resounding GONG from the sun. I'm Eric Phillips.
"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov.