Science of Sunlight and Stars: Case Study

Essay by interstateman July 2006

download word file, 8 pages 4.6

Downloaded 148 times

The Sun is the closest star to our planet, Earth, and is the cause of many things on our planet, including winds, seasons, and even life itself (both human and otherwise). This particular connection and closeness to our own planet makes the Sun a prime target for scientific study. Many different things have been learned about the composition and behavior of our star as well as that of other stars throughout the universe.

Studying the Sun's interior by analyzing its oscillations and sound waves as the waves pass through the Sun is called helioseismology. The Sun contorts from oscillations that were not discovered until 1962, and it took until 1975 to confirm by observations how these oscillations were generated and the source.

Inside the Sun there is a great deal of pressure that fluctuates constantly and the end results are sound waves. When sound waves are generated, they move outward toward the Sun's surface. When the sound waves reach the surface, the waves tend to bounce back and start to return towards the inner part of the Sun. This is due to the region near the Sun's surface being less dense and having less pressure. The returning sound wave's path of motion are bent and distorted because of the increase in temperature as the wave travels deeper inside the Sun. The sound waves are now reflected back to the surface and the process repeats. Scientists observed that these trapped sound waves are what cause the Sun to oscillate and vibrate.

By studying and observing the sound waves and vibrations of the Sun, scientists are able to determine the makeup of the interior of the Sun the same way scientists use seismic waves from earthquakes to research the Earth's interior structure. Helioseismologists use the P waves inside the Sun to...