How does an electromagnetic field (artificial) affect the the surface of the sun?


This answer is courtesy of Robert Walsh, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.


I do not need to speculate about this too much because, in reality, an electromagnetic field is affecting the surface of the Sun all the time!!

As you probably know, the outer atmosphere of the Sun (the corona) is permeated with the Sun's magnetic field. (You can see magnetic field maps of the solar surface and of the corona.) During a total solar eclipse, the corona becomes visible because the moon blocks the light from the bright solar surface. The corona consists of very low density but very high temperature plasma. Other solar observing instruments show the solar atmosphere to have many interesting features right down to the limit at which we can observe and which we believe are due to the Sun's magnetic field.

What happens if we introduce a strong magnetic field into this environment? We can observe this, too, by looking out for something called an emerging active region. This is where a concentrated portion of magnetic field rises up into the corona from the dense photospheric and chromospheric layers below. This emerging field can then interact with the coronal magnetic field.

These active regions can be observed as bright tangles of magnetic fieldlines (for example, you can see some of the SOHO or YOHKOH images) that appear to produce some of the most dramatic features we observe on the Sun. This can include solar flares; acceleration of particles (for example, electrons); heating of the plasma in the corona as well as coronal mass ejections (huge clouds of plasma thrown out from the Sun), to name but a few.

The Sun's magnetic field plays the most important part in nearly all the wonderful structures that we can now observe and it is a very dynamic and exciting place to investigate and try to understand.


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Special Thanks to R. Walsh.