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NASA findings suggest the Sun is more explosive than previously thought

New research published in the journal Science has found that the Sun may be "more spirited" than scientists have previously thought, according to Phys.org. The researchers used data from NASA's IRIS (Interface Region Imaging Spectograph) telescope to reach their conclusion that the Sun may have "short-lived heat pockets" in its cooler layer.

Scientists have previously studied solar eruptions in the Sun's outer atmosphere, but the new study is the first evidence of explosions in the layer beneath the outer atmosphere. The magnetic energy in the Sun's cooler layer "builds up and discharges within only a few minutes" — but in that short time, the eruptions can be as hot as 100,000 degrees.

The IRIS telescope took data from the Sun's active regions within the Sun's photosphere. The research team concluded that the photosphere's magnetic fields provided the Sun with enough energy for the explosions.

"In these regions, we found heat pockets as big as half of Germany," study author Hardi Peter told Phys.org. "They are up to 20 times as hot as their surroundings." He added that the energy released during these short explosions would be enough to power Germany for 8,000 years. "The new results have fundamentally changed our understanding of the Sun's outer buildup," Peter added.