Helioseismology studies the wave oscillations in the Sun, similar to the study of seismic waves on Earth. These (acoustic) waves are affected by the physical conditions (density and temperature) and deep turbulent motions inside the Sun.

The Sun acts like a resonant cavity with standing wave structures. These wave motions can be observed at the solar surface. Scientists study the observed wave patterns at the surface in order to understand the Sun's interior.

We can see similar waves in other stars, allowing us to learn about their interiors too.

60 foot solar tower at Mt. Wilson Observatory where pionering work on helioseismology was started in the early 1960's
Click on image for full size (26K JPEG)
Image courtesy ofUniversity of Southern California, 60 Foot Solar Tower at Mt. Wilson Observatory.

A computer-generated image of an acoustic wave resonating in the interior of the Sun.

Sounds of the Stars

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Video: Journey Beneath a Sunspot

Last modified January 12, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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