Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking

Seismic Wave Movie (mpeg)

Reported at the Conference of the American Geophysical Union

27 May 1998

Scientists have shown for the first time that solar flares produce seismic waves, and gigantic seismic quakes, in the Sun's interior. Using data from the Michelson Doppler Imager onboard the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Stanford and Glasgow scientists have tracked these seismic waves and found that "sun-quakes" closely resemble earthquakes on our planet.

The researchers observed a flare-generated solar quake that contained about 40,000 times the energy released in the great earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906. The amount of energy released was enough to power the United States for 20 years at its current level of consumption, and was equivalent to an 11.3 magnitude quake on Earth.

Press Release Full Text

More Detailed Information and Access to Images


Movies are available of a seismic wave rippling outward from a 9 July 1996 flare. (both Quicktime and mpeg formats).

Still Images

Still images extracted from the movie can also be obtained.

Background and Related Information

Includes additional images, publications, and other resources relating to helioseismology and this story.

Authors and Contacts

Dr. Alexander G. Kosovichev
Senior Research Scientist
W.W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory
Stanford University

Dr. Valentina V. Zharkova
Senior Research Scientist
Physics and Astronomy Department
Glasgow University
44-141-339-8855 ext.2855

Philip H. Scherrer
SOI Principal Investigator
Stanford University

David F. Salisbury
Stanford University News Service
Fax 650-725-0247

Harvey Leifert
Public Information Manager
American Geophysical Union
Phone: (202) 939-3212

Donald Savage
NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1547)

Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-8955)

SOI Home Page
SOHO Home Page

Reports in the Media

Christian Science Monitor - Photos of Solar Flares Alter Perception of Sun

CNN - Solar flares produce quakes deep inside the Sun.

ABC News - Rumble in the Sun

NBC News -- Sunquake observations may help predict solar flares

ESA Presse - Solar Flare Leaves Sun Quaking

Florida Today - Space Online - Solar flares produce quakes deep inside the sun.

New Scientist (Story coming online shortly)

KRFC, the Oldies radio station (San Francisco Bay area)
Sound-bite went something like this: "Scientists at Stanford have discovered a gigantic quake on the Sun. Gee, I hope it doesn't touch off the Big One here!"

TV Coverage, US:

Foreign Coverage:

Research has been supported financially at Stanford University by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Grant NAG5-3077. This grant supports Mission Operations and Data Analysis of the Solar Oscillations Investigation Michelson Doppler Imager instrument on the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is a mission of international cooperation between ESA (the European Space Agency) and NASA.

The MDI instrument was designed and built by the Solar Oscillations Investigation Team at Stanford University and the Lockheed-Martin Palo Alto Research Laboratory.

Created by Deborah Scherrer
This page is

Return To the SOI Home Page