Scientists thought they knew a lot about the Sun, if not everything. But recently, our star managed to surprise them: the Sun has demonstrated unprecedented power, emitting a record number of gamma rays - the most energetically saturated waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. The energy of these particles reached an unprecedented level, amounting to about 1 trillion electron volts.
According to Space.com, researchers studying solar radiation have discovered this incredible burst of gamma rays, which is outside the normal spectrum of solar emissions. Meher Un Nisa, co-author of this discovery, admitted:
“After looking at six years' worth of data, out popped this excess of gamma rays. When we first saw it, we were like, 'We definitely messed this up. The sun cannot be this bright at these energies.”
Previously, scientists have already recorded cases of gamma radiation from the Sun, but they are usually associated with intense solar flares. However, the new discovery has a completely different explanation.
The Cherenkov Radiation Observatory, known as the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC), played a key role in this discovery. It is specially designed to observe high-energy gamma rays and cosmic rays.
The Cherenkov Observatory is a network of 300 large water reservoirs, each containing about 200 tons of purified water. These reservoirs are located between two extinct volcanoes in Mexico at an altitude of more than 3962 meters above sea level. So-called Cherenkov radiation, named after Nobel Prize-winning physicist Pavel Cherenkov, occurs when charged particles move through water at a specific speed.
Thermonuclear processes occurring inside the Sun also generate high-energy radiation. However, these particles usually do not reach the surface of the Sun, let alone hit the detectors on Earth. Most of the solar radiation consists of infrared, ultraviolet and visible waves. For comparison, the energy of a visible wave is about 1 electron volt, while the gamma rays detected by scientists emit about 1 trillion electron volts.
These new observations can significantly enrich our knowledge of solar physics. This study has already raised many questions about the role of the Sun's magnetic field in gamma-ray phenomena.