Sun, the source of energy and life on Earth, has been closely studied by scientists for many years. These scientists have been intrigued by the almost perfectly round shape of the Sun and have tried to discern whether or not a flattening effect influences Sun’s rotation. Now, a new and advanced research seems to have revealed the answer to this.
The research was done by the Jeff Kuhn and Isabelle Scholl (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Manoa), Marcelo Emilo (Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa, Brazil) and Rock Bush (Stanford University). In studying the rotation of the Sun, the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) was used which is present at the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite.
With the help of HMI, these scientists were able to discern the shape of the sun with great accuracy. According to the results gathered from this observation, Sun is indeed a near perfect round shape. It is so round that if it was reduced to a ball of one meter in diameter, the difference between its equatorial diameter and the diameter through its North-South pole would be 17 millionths of a meter. In other words, there is barely any difference.
These scientists also studied the expected flattening of Sun’s surface and concluded that such flattening is constant over time. Also, the flattening itself can’t account fully for the surface rotation of Sun and therefore, there are other forces such as magnetism which may also play a role in it.
According to Kuhn, the team leader for this research, “For years we’ve believed our fluctuating measurements were telling us that the sun varies, but these new results say something different. While just about everything else in the sun changes along with its 11-year sunspot cycle, the shape doesn’t.”
Source: Science Mag