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  solar surface & below
Beneath the surface On the surface
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  dive beneath the solar surface
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  sounds galore
  why does the Sun ring?
  detecting the Sun's vibrations
  different solar tunes
  the speed of sound in the Sun
  the temperature of the Sun
  how fast does the Sun rotate?

why does the Sun ring?

 

The Sun has lots of sound waves bouncing around inside it. The Sun also has natural frequencies at which it can ring. It’s a bit like having lots of bells, large and small, all ringing together.

 

By measuring the frequencies, wavelengths and amplitudes of solar sound waves, we can find out what is going on inside the Sun. The diagram shows all these terms in one! mouse over arrow

  Experiment
     
Did you know? - Opera singers that have been able to sing a single note at the same natural frequency as a glass, can make the glass vibrate so much that it smashes!

‘Resonate’ means
- to vibrate at a special frequency!

Why did the singing teacher have such a high pitched voice? - She had falsetto teeth!
         

The Sun also has natural frequencies at which it resonates. Of course, there isn't a giant finger to 'ping' the Sun, but the inside of the Sun is really noisy with lots of rumbling from the convection motion just below the surface. The sound waves bounce around inside the Sun, taking about two hours to travel from one side to the other. The frequencies are too low for our ears to hear. If we could hear them there would be lots of different natural frequencies and harmonics at the same time, not a 'pure' note.

 

The Sun is a giant ball of plasma, but the density and temperature are not the same everywhere. The speed at which sound waves travel depends on the temperature, so the sound speed varies inside the Sun. You can find out more about what is under the Sun’s surface from other pages in this section.

     
   

 

   
 
 

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