The Solar Physics Group at TCD are excited to report that they have made radio images of bursts of radio waves from the Sun using LOFAR. The Sun is far from a quiet star and from time to time throws out huge explosions of hot gas into space. These explosions can accelerate electrons to fractions of the speed of light and it is these tiny electrons that emit radio waves on their way though interplanetary space. These radio waves can be detected by radio telescopes as bursts of radiation.
Now, a team at TCD lead by Prof. Peter Gallagher, have managed to image these bursts for the first time using the international Low Frequency Array (LOFAR). These bursts were found to originate even at times of low solar activity at other wavelengths.
“The Sun is a ever-changing and we have used LOFAR to look for the exact places on the Sun where electrons are accelerated by tracking radio waves coming from the Sun”, according to TCD graduate student, Diana Morosan, who was first author on a recent paper on this topic in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. “These results are key to understanding how electrons can be accelerated in the solar atmosphere and on other stars in the Universe.”
The article can be read here.