And they could be the “missing link” in understanding the Sun’s mysterious weather cycle.
Astronomers have known that the Sun has a dramatic 11-year weather system but now appear to have finally found out what causes it.
Terminator events and tsunamis provide the start and end to the cycle.
Researchers found that when one solar cycle ends there are cataclysmic magnetic field collisions, known as “terminator events” that lead to gargantuan tsunamis of plasma that shoot across the Sun’s surface for several weeks.
They appear to be the “missing link” according to two new studies published in Scientific Reports and Solar Physics.
Mausumi Dikipati, co-author of the two new studies, at the High Altitude Observatory, Boulder, Colorado, said up until now the weather cycle had been a “mystery”.
He stated: “We have observed the Sunspot cycle for hundreds of years but it’s been a mystery what mechanism could transport a signal from the equator where the cycle ends to the Sun’s mid-latitudes where the next cycle begins, in such a relatively short amount of time.”
The Tsunamis create Sunspots near strong magnetic field lines in middle latitudes, just a few weeks after they disappeared near the equator.
Tracking bright points at mid-latitudes it is seen that they head towards the equator, overlapping Sunspots and then when they hit the equator they disappear in the terminator event.
A few weeks later the bright lights start again in the mid-latitudes.
Clearly something in the terminator event triggers the start of the new cycle in the higher latitude and that’s where the Tsunami comes in.
Researchers have found that the terminator events could end in the collision of two huge magnetic field lines near the Sun’s equator leading to dual Tsunami’s of plasma.
These “doughnut-looking” magnetic fields may be behind the start of the bright points and Sunspots and they appear to also create a “dam” that holds in the plasma which advances to the equator.
When the two magnetic fields collide at the equator it creates a “mutual annihilation”.
The plasma then rushes back in the direction of the poles in twin tsunamis travelling at 300ms a second.
The plasma reaches the mid-latitudes where it meets a new magnetic field and the process starts again.