As research has proven time and time again, our solar system is full of mysteries waiting to be solved. The latest of these phenomena is a new type of wave discovered on our sun, and it has scientists completely baffled.
A new kind of high-frequency retrograde (HFR) wave has been detected moving in the opposite direction of the sun's rotation, and three times faster than the expected speed. The discovery was made after an analysis of space and ground-based data from the past 25 years was conducted by a team of researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi's (NYUAD) Center for Space Science. According to their study, the strange phenomenon can't be explained by standard hydrodynamic mechanisms. And as researchers rush to find answers, there appears to be a lot more mystery surrounding the discovery than they initially believed.
The aftermath of the discovery has scientists examining multiple theories that may explain the bewildering discovery. Although possible explanations could include well-known properties of the sun - such as magnetism, gravity, or convection - it seems highly unlikely to scientists. "If the HFR waves could be attributed to any of these three processes, then the finding would have answered some open questions we still have about the sun," said Chris S. Hanson, the study's lead author. "However, these new waves don't appear to be a result of these processes, and that's exciting because it leads to a whole new set of questions." Since the internal processes of stars can usually be studied based on surface activity, this discovery may reveal new insights into the sun's internal properties and activity.
The high speed of the HFR waves poses a conundrum since it can't be explained by standard mechanisms. The unexplainable phenomenon is leading scientists to believe there may be missing or poorly constrained information in our model of the sun. "The very existence of high-frequency retrograde modes and their origin is a true mystery and may allude to exciting physics at play," said physicist Shravan Hanasoge at NYU Abu Dhabi. As more research on the bizarre observation unfolds, we'll have to wait to find out how this discovery might change our understanding of the most important star in our solar system. Until then, stay tuned.