Although our sun does not generate particularly large sunspots, Rakesh Yadav describes new (and artistic!) simulations showing giant “starspots” that spew out X-rays.
Originally shared by Rakesh Yadav
Scientifically correct “Art”
People usually complain that scientists often use rather boring way of showing their results, you know, lines and graphs and sort. But sometimes we also become a little artistic and play around with colours and other stuff to satisfy both our colleagues and general public (hopefully!).
Below is an artistic “star” which is a result of several months of number crunching on a pretty bad-ass supercomputer. The colours on this handsome star represent the velocity, blueish means plasma is coming towards you and orangish means it is going away from you. The curved lines coming out are magnetic field lines.
We ran this simulation in order to explain a rather intriguing mystery. Our sun, even when it is most active, produces rather tiny sunspots (tiny as compared to the sun!). These sunspots produce certain amount of x-rays which we can measure. When scientists looked at other stars they found that other stars have much higher level of x-rays production. The consensus right now is that these stars have much larger spots, called “starspots”, and much more as compared to the sun (imagine living in that star-system where your host star is spewing out x-rays like crazy). Well, there is not a solid simulation which actually produced bid spots. If you look carefully at the simulation below, then you will see a dark patch in the upper half of the animation, which comes and goes. This is suppose to be a starspot which is rather huge as compared to what we see on sun. This is the first simulation which has produced such spots and I am genuinely excited about the results!
As always the simulation below have generated more questions than it answered. It will surely keep be busy for the coming months. Lets see what comes next…
Robby Bowles Allison Sekuler Rajini Rao Buddhini Samarasinghe