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Powerful magnetic waves have been confirmed for the first time as major players in the process that makes the sun's atmosphere strangely hundreds of times hotter than its already superhot surface.
The magnetic waves — called Alfven waves — can carry enough energy from the sun's active surface to heat its atmosphere, or corona.
"The surface and corona are chock full of these things, and they're very energetic," said Bart de Pontieu, a physicist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in California.