Sunspots featured in professor’s published article

Nicole Wilcox

When sunspots were first discovered by Galileo in 1612 they promptly disappeared, which hurt his reputation even more.

However, the accolades CSUN astronomy professor Debi Prasad Choudhary has earned as coauthor of a paper that has been published in the top journal in astrophysics are securely in place.

The paper, which deals with the dark spots on the sun known as sunspots, was published in August. The publication, The Astrophysical Journal, will publish another of his papers in the future.

The research for the paper was supported by the National Science Foundation through an early career grant. Choudhary said it is a very big competition, which includes all fields of science, and is for university professors who are in their early careers.

Sunspots are formed one-third of the distance into the sun, where “the magnetic field is created,” Choudhary said. “And once this is created, it lifts magnetized metal and rises to the surface of the sun.”

Space weather is one of the bigger affects the sunspots have, he said. Sunspots affect the weather around earth’s atmosphere, which is “satellite and space technology dependable.”

Sunspots also affect satellites because of their magnetic fields, which influences cell phone and credit card transactions that are dependent on the satellites.

Choudhary said the “sunspots also affect the iridescence of the sun and that governs the earth’s weather,” adding that it is a very small change with a minor effect. The sunspots do not affect the total amount of light that is hitting the earth, which Choudhary said has been measured for the last 25 years.

The paper was coauthored with K.S. Balasubramaniam. Balasubramaniam works at the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico. Choudhary said this observatory is the first largest observatory with the first largest telescope.

Choudhary said he has collaborated with the National Solar Observatory for the last 13 years. In addition, CSUN and the National Solar Observatory are “planning to extend communications.”

CSUN student Dennis Yongmaneeratana, senior liberal studies major, said this opportunity will really open the door for many students at CSUN.

“They know they have advance opportunities to engage in the program and will open doors for them,” Yongmaneeratana said.

Choudhary said there are other stars, like the sun, that have a magnetic field also. He said it is important to understand “how magnitude plays a role in setting the galaxy and forming a star.”

Choudhary said that 99 percent of the air, throughout the galaxy, is charged particles. “They produce a magnetic field and are governed by a magnetic field,” Choudhary said.

Understanding how magnetism affects the universe is still a problem. “One of the outstanding problems in modern solar physics is to understand the solar magnetism and how it affects the universe,” Choudhary said.

One thing for sure is that Choudhary’s paper will have a long lasting affect on astrophysics and on CSUN.

A junior astrophysics student, who desired to remain anonymous, said that this paper “gives us a lot of pride and shows us how credible our science department is.”

Yongmaneeratana said the paper “will give CSUN a name and prestige for the astronomy program and will attract more students for the astronomy department.”

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