Scientists have made a surprising discovery of a “heartbeat-like” radio signal emanating from a solar flare located thousands of miles above the surface of the sun. The international team of researchers detected the unusual bursts of radio waves that originated from a C-class solar flare, a strong eruption of electromagnetic radiation.
“The discovery is unexpected,” said Sijie Yu, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) astronomer, and corresponding author, in a statement. “This beating pattern is important for understanding how energy is released and is dissipated in the Sun’s atmosphere during these incredibly powerful explosions on the Sun.”
The discovery of these unusual signals is an exciting development for scientists as it could shed new light on the nature and behavior of solar flares, which are a significant source of space weather that can impact Earth’s technological infrastructure. The “heartbeat” signal, as described by the researchers, appears to repeat every 3.5 seconds, similar to the pulse of a human heart. “However, the origin of these repetitive patterns, also called quasi-periodic pulsations, has long been a mystery and a source of debate among solar physicists,” Yu added.
According to the paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the team used radio telescopes located in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to detect the signal. However, the researchers are still unclear about what causes these heartbeats and how they are generated. They have ruled out the possibility that the signal originated from any spacecraft or other human-made sources.
Solar flares are known to emit a range of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves, X-rays, and ultraviolet light. They can occur when magnetic energy that has built up in the sun’s atmosphere is suddenly released, leading to intense bursts of energy that can travel through space and potentially affect Earth’s communication systems and satellites.
Understanding the mechanisms behind these flares is crucial for predicting space weather and mitigating any potential impacts on technological infrastructure on Earth. The discovery of these heartbeat-like signals represents an exciting opportunity for scientists to gain new insights into these powerful phenomena and their impact on our planet.