According to a recent study, the size of the Sun is slightly smaller than previously thought. New data on the size of our star could have a significant impact on our understanding of its internal structure. This new study, which is currently undergoing peer review, confirms previous work that used sound waves on the Sun — essentially its seismic activity — to calculate the size, which also found a discrepancy in the star’s diameter compared to the traditional solar model.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge working on the study used helioseismology, namely sound waves, to estimate the size of the Sun. According to them, helioseismological findings provide information about nuclear reactions, chemical composition, and the basic structure of the star. It is interesting that sound waves propagate in the interior of the Sun, reflecting from the photosphere and causing vibrations on the surface.
Previously, gravitational waves (F-model) were used for measurements, which caused some uncertainties due to the limited permeability of the photosphere. The new approach, however, uses the dynamics of P-model waves that arise as a result of significant pressure fluctuations in the turbulent interior of the Sun and easily penetrate its core.
This allowed us to obtain more accurate results that are more or less consistent with previous measurements. But a small difference in the size of the Sun was found — only a few hundredths of a percent. But even such a deviation can have a significant impact on the study of the structure and composition of the Sun. The accuracy of these measurements is extremely important for a proper understanding of the internal processes in stars.
Commenting on this topic for New Scientist, Douglas Gough, co-author of the study, emphasized that this work could prevent false conclusions about the intricacies of the Sun’s internal structure. This study opens up new opportunities for a more accurate study of the brightest object in our solar system.
Earlier, we collected 12 interesting facts about the Sun.