The Sun is at the core of our Solar System. Have you ever thought about what are some of the facts about it that are very bizarre? Here is one of them.
The Sun is a giant star. It is so giant in volume, that it can roughly fit 1.3 million Earths in it! Recently, a new research paper published by Alexander Kosovichev and Jean-Pierre Rozelot informs that the Sun’s radius can shrink up to 2km. This mainly occurs during the period of intense solar activity in the cycle of 11 years.
The measurement of the Sun’s radius is actually a very tricky task. Moreover, the extremely high temperature only adds on to the difficulties. The researchers have devised a practice to concretely determine the radius of the Sun. Most importantly, they make use of the Seismic Waves generated to fulfill the purpose. They focus on the frequencies of the waves to gather data.
Evidence of Sun shrinkage
They kept on gathering the data and observing the trend for about two decades, finally leading to conclude that the Sun’s diameter contracts and expands. The observation leads to a discovery that the behavior of all of its layers does not remain the same throughout. Some of the layers shrink while some of them expand. The resultant leads to a net shrinkage of the radius by 2 km in a cycle of 11 years during the periods of high solar activity.
The changes in the frequency of Seismic Waves aided the scientists to estimate the radius of the Sun. It was very interesting to note that even though the radius shrinks there is no change in its brightness. Actually, almost none of the Earth’s phenomena get altered. This is basically of the massive size of the Sun. Its radius is about 700,000 km, and a change of 2 km is too small to have any effect here on Earth.
What is the 11-year cycle of the Sun?
The behavior of the Sun varies on an 11-year cycle, it takes typically about 5.5 years to move from the quieter period of solar minimum to the more turbulent solar maximum.
Solar Physicists adopt a way to monitor the solar cycle by studying the Sunspots (i.e. the dark splotches ) on the surface of the Sun. The cause of these short-lived patches are the intense magnetic activities in such a star. As the frequency and number of sunspots changes, it acts as an indicator of sun’s activity as it goes from the solar minimum to solar maximum.