The mystery of solar nanoflares
Nanoflares are eruptions on the Sun which are billion times less energetic than ordinary flares but still have the power that belies their name.
They appear as little brightenings of the solar surface at extreme ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths and they might solve a long-standing mystery in solar physics: What causes the Sun's corona to be so hot?
Physicist David Smith of the UC Santa Crus says a typical 'nanoflare' has the same energy as 240 megatons of TNT, or something like 10 000 atomic fission bombs.
Unlike typical solar flares, which can be weeks or even months apart, nanoflares appear to be active throughout the solar cycle, which would explain why the corona remains hot during Solar Minimum.
And while each individual nanoflare falls short of the energy required to heat the Sun's atmosphere, collectively they might have no trouble doing to job.
Featured image and video courtesy of NASA/ScienceCast
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Commenting rules and guidelines
We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:
We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.