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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

New Images Show Sun Is Covered by Wide Mountains of Hot Gases

December 19, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

The sun, that blazing sphere at the center of our solar system, is covered by mountains of hot gases that stretch as far as 40,000 miles at their bases, according to new images. "The sun has mountains. These bumps are about five times the diameter of Earth," Jeffrey R. Kuhn, a solar physicist from Michigan State University, told a meeting of the American Geological Society in San Francisco. However, the mountains are only about a third of a mile high, he said.

"We don't yet have a model that explains these hills," Kuhn said, although he suspects that they are caused by the interaction of boiling gas and the sun's powerful magnetic field.

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