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Scientists detect sun has been shooting out strangely-bright light for years without anyone noticing

Harley Young

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Scientists detect sun has been shooting out strangely-bright light for years without anyone noticing

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay / Getty

The sun, that big ball of fire in the sky that we rely on for pretty much everything we need to live, is doing something weird again. Would you believe it?

Scientists have recently found out that the sun has been shooting out bizarrely-bright lights for years without anyone having even an inkling that it's happening.

Astronomers from Michigan State University didn't just discover the uber-energetic gamma rays that the sun has been emitting, but they have also discovered a significantly large amount of them. This new research has discovered that the rays don't quite reach the Earth thankfully, but their 'telltale signatures' can be detected if you have the right tools to look for them.

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The sun has been found to be emitting unusually-bright gamma rays. Credit: NASA
The sun has been found to be emitting unusually-bright gamma rays. Credit: NASA

These rays were detected by the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory which is located between two volcanoes in Southern Mexico at an elevation of 13,500.

The device can 'see' the gamma rays by using its network of 300 water tanks. Each one is full of 200 metric tons of water.

When these rays come into contact with our atmosphere, they create something called 'air showers' which are 'a bit like particle explosions' that we can't see with our own eyes, according to the statement from the university. When these particles loosen, they are ultimately broken down into particles that can be detected here on Earth.

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It's not a complete and utter shock to scientists that this has been discovered, as there were predictions in the early 1990s that our sun emits gamma rays. It's just that it wasn't believed that we'd be able to see their presence on Earth. Co-author of the study, Mehr Un Nisa said that the HAWC Observatory equipment seems to have changed that.

"After looking at six years' worth of data, out popped this excess of gamma rays," Nisa told her university in a press release. "When we first saw it, we were like, 'We definitely messed this up. The sun cannot be this bright at these energies.'"

The rays aren't visible to the naked eye. Credit: Unsplash
The rays aren't visible to the naked eye. Credit: Unsplash

However, it was true, and the sun was shooting off gamma rays between one and 10 trillion electron volts, according to their readings. To put it into perspective, the light that our eyes can detect from the sun is the equivalent of around one single electron volt, making the gamma rays unbelievably large.

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"This shows that HAWC is adding to our knowledge of our galaxy at the highest energies, and it's opening up questions about our very own sun," Nisa said. "It's making us see things in a different light. Literally."

Topics: News, Science, Space

Harley Young
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