A Tsunami In The Photosphere Of The Sun

The photosphere of the sun is a turbulent and sometimes violent place, with coronal mass ejections and tsunamis.  Dr. Alexander G. Kosovichev, from Stanford University, and Dr. Valentina V. Zharkova from Glasgow University have already demonstrated evidence of seismic (tsunami) activity in the photosphere using data collected by the Michelson Doppler Imager onboard the SOHO spacecraft following a flare on July 9, 1996.

This movie of the photosphere's activity demonstrates the convection processes that are constantly reshaping the granular, liquid-like "surface" of the photosphere as it conducts built up heat from below into the chromosphere that sits above it.  The photosphere is a dense plasma layer that  behaves a lot like a gooey liquid.  It sits above the surface of the sun much like earths oceans cover most of the earth.  As we can see from the granular surface video, the plasma layer of the photosphere behaves very much like a pot of boiling hot liquid with a crusty surface.  It is busily transferring the heat produced from the arcing processes below, into the chromosphere above it.  The photosphere is constantly being reheated from below by the ongoing arcing processes that conduct electricity through the photosphere and thereby heat up the medium of the photosphere itself.  Sometimes this results in moving sunspots, where the visible "congealed" surface of the photosphere simply "dissolved" into the upwelling hot plasma from underneath.  Once things cool off again, the jelled plasma at the top of the photosphere reforms and the sunspot closes.

The gooey nature, and the dense, liquid-like properties of the photospheres plasma allow us to watch the propagation of seismic waves through the medium of the photosphere.

As you look at this video, you can see what I would describe as an "underwater island chain" that is highly electrically active and in the process of significant erosion because of this electrical activity.   Sitting above all of these surface features (the light and dark areas of the video) sits the orange, liquid-like photosphere.   To the left side of these more active (bright) underwater structures we can also see an "under-photosphere" structure that I've circled in black.  It is not active and is not moving and does not change at any time during the video.  Notice the dark ridge along the left hand side of this structure and the fact this dark ridge faces away from the active "lit" areas.  This dark side of the structure is essentially a "shadow" caused by the side of the cliff.   In fact as you review the video, you can make out a lot of features which don't change very much as the photosphere moves around them. 

Imagine that you are looking into a slightly murky but shallow pond, on a windy day.  You can make out some the "surface features" below, but not all of them, and not very clearly.  To the north and south of the center of this video sit two active "tops" of solid surface ridges in a VERY active (hot) state of electrical erosion.   Just before the "tsunami" begins, the upper bright spot in the center of the video grows brighter indicating an increase in electrical activity.  Shortly afterwards, this bright spot to the north simply "disappears", as does the glow from part of the southern tip, indicating a significant drop in electrical activity in both regions, and a much reduced electrical arcing pattern can be seen between the north and south active zones.

Just prior to the beginning of the eruption, a black dot, followed by a black burst,  appears in the center of the bright region to the south, marking the very center of the eruption point which is circled in blue in the upper photo.  This is followed shortly afterwards by a bright "ring" (third photo) in the photosphere just above the black patch from the eruption below.  Electrical erosion is ultimately the catalyst of this event as it eats through the top of the lower ridge and causes and eruption of the magma below, setting off a tsunami in the photosphere.   The tsunami then uniformly spreads itself across the photosphere like ripples on a pond.

I would like to personally thank Dr. Kosovichev for taking the time to respond to my recent emails.  I have the greatest of respect for Dr. Kosovichev and his work and particularly the time he spent answering my questions.  In a very direct way, this page is my attempt to explain to him, more than anyone else, why I interpret his work to support the idea that the sun has a solid surface.  It is probably safe to say that this will bother him no end at the moment. :) 

I must note here that Dr. Kosovichev is a VERY, very nice person, but he in NO WAY endorses my views about there being a "solid" surface on the sun.  In a recent email from Dr. Kosovichev, he explained these features in the following quote:

"The consistent structures in the movie are caused by stationary flows in magnetic structures, sunspots and active regions.

We know this from the simultaneous measurements of solar magnetic field, made by SOHO. These are not solid structures which would not have mass flows that we see.

These images are Doppler shift of the spectral line Ni 6768A.

The Doppler shift measures the velocity of mass motions along the line of sight. The darker areas show the motions towards us, and light areas show flows from us. These are not cliffs or anything like this. The movie frames are the running differences of the Doppler shift. For the illustration purpose, the sunquake signal is enhanced by increasing its amplitude by a factor 4."

If you wish a further explanation of this video from his point of view, I suggest you visit him by clicking on any of the links I've provided.  I'm sure from my own experiences that he will be very happy to email you if you have any questions about his views.

I would point out in my defense that electrons and ions and streams of plasma and other charged surface particles moving from one point on the surface to another would certainly explain the mass flows that he describes and would certainly create the Doppler shift images that we see in these videos.  This mass flow argument favors neither a gas model nor a solid model in any way.

In addition, there is evidence in Dr. Kosovichev's own body of work to suggest that sound waves run into a a discrete "layer" at 4800km (3000 Miles), and the structures below the photosphere that we see in these images most likely come from a stratification layer found at a relatively shallow depth.   Sound waves show a definite density/temperature change at a relatively shallow depth under the photosphere.  The heliosiesmology figures sound just about right for the depth of the structures we see under the wave in this video.

Our disagreement about the cause of the mass flow is a mute point IMO, since whatever mass flows that allows us to see the ripples and movement of the wave through the photosphere are exactly the same mass flows that reveal the angular "structures" at a very specific depth below the surface of the photosphere as well.

What is revealed in these videos is that very angular and relatively solid "structures" can be seen below and within the rippling, gooey plasma layer of the photosphere.  Compared to the liquid-like texture of the plasma in the photosphere, these surfaces are HIGHLY RIGID, and unaffected by the disturbance in the photosphere. 

These surfaces simply do not move and flow like the rest of the photosphere moves and flows in this video.  These surfaces therefore cannot be composed of the same liquid-like material as the photosphere itself.  They are FAR too rigid and far too angular, and far too stable to be a part of the photosphere itself.  In addition, these photos reveal this transition layer between the liquid-like plasma of the photosphere and the solid structures below the photosphere happens at a relatively, in fact EXTREMELY SHALLOW DEPTH, compared to what gas models predict.  The transition between rigid surface and liquid plasma, happens in a VERY RADICAL fashion, not gradually as we would expect if the photosphere simply gets more dense as we go deeper into the sun.   The notion that these are "stationary magnetic structures" precludes them from being made of the same material as the liquid-plasma layer that the wave is propagating through.  The material of the photosphere itself is not "stationary" at all.

These Doppler images are created by looking for moving mass that is flowing up or down from the perspective of one's line of site, or essentially from the satellites "point of view".  Mass in the form of electrons and ions and plasma is flowing upwards from the lower regions of the surface and are designated as "dark regions" in these photos.  Mass flowing down is shown in the light areas.  These up and down movements of mass stop a very discernable, uniformly rotating layer, the solar "surface" itself.  The dark areas represent springs and rivers of electrons that are continually flowing UP from core through the surface.  Ions and plasma and charged particles from the surface get pulled upwards in this stream.  The dark areas "tend" (this can be misleading however) to be the "lower" regions of the surface, because electrons from the core will take the path of least resistance through the surface structures.  If you think of the surface and solar crust as a resistor, electrons flowing up from the core will take the shortest path to the surface, the path of least resistance. 

These free flowing electrons from the core will be attracted toward any positively charged surface, and will arc toward these positively charged areas.  Typically these areas are found in the the higher elevations.  Electrons flow into the core from space as well, as they pour down to the surface from every angle.  They too will be attracted to the the "higher" elevations, more specifically the positively charged surface structures which act as "lightening rods" for the out-flowing streams of electrons and for the electrons from space. This energy exchange is what "lights up" the arcs we see, and heats up the photosphere around the arcs. This up and down movement of electrons completes the circuit through the photosphere and these electrons contain and pushes along the moving mass that Dr. Kosovichev is concerned about.

This powerful flow of energy creates the mass flow pattern that highlights the wave propagating through the photosphere and also reveals the solid, rigid and angular surfaces below the photosphere that you can see in these photos.   The circled features are stationary, unlike the movement of wave through the photosphere.  They are solid objects on the surface of the sun.

Whatever these stationary structures are made of, they cannot possibly be made of same material as the photosphere.  It's simply not dense enough to create such rigid surfaces.



During this video, we can watch the wave propagating over the surface of the photosphere like ripples on a pond.   Under the surface of this shallow pond of the solar photosphere, we observe highly rigid and angular structures which retain their three dimensional shape over the course of many hours.   The angular structures are undisturbed by the movement in the plasma of the photosphere.  These structures are much more "rigid' than the plasma of the photosphere.




The Surface Of The Sun