AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 57. A Centennial Celebration of the Life and Work of George Ellery Hale
Solar, Oral, Tuesday, June 1, 1999, 10:45am-12:30pm, Continental Ballroom C

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[57.03] It Started with George Ellery Hale

E. N. Parker (University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637)

With his invention of the spectroheliograph, showing the structure and activity of the surface of the Sun, and with his spectroscopic determination of the magnetic character of the sunspot, Hale initiated a line of research that has brought us deeper into the mysteries of the Sun with each passing decade. The flare is perhaps the most spectacular aspect of the activity, along with the more recently discovered coronal mass ejection. However, we must not overlook the spectacular revelation, by Grotrian, Edlen, and Lyot, that the outer atmosphere of the Sun has a temperature of a million or more degrees K, providing both radio and X-ray emission. It is all too often forgotten in these heady times that, while we have a number of plausible ideas about how things work, there is not yet a clear understanding of why a late main sequence star should exhibit such effects. Magnetic fields generated by some form of MHD dynamo appear to initiate the suprathermal activity in all its many forms. The intensely fibril form of the magnetic fields seems to be a clue to the nature of the dynamo process, and the first observational priority now is to develop a 4m telescope with an adaptive optics system that can properly resolve the individual fibrils at the visible surface (0.1" or better)to determine their behavior. Indeed the nature of the sunspot, the faculae and plages,the microflare, etc. all lie at the limits of telescopic resolution. The varying brightness of the Sun seems to be a byproduct of the magnetic activity, and besides the consequences for the climate at Earth, provides another baffling clue to the puzzle. We cannot guess what further marvels will be discovered before the puzzle is resolved in hard scientific terms, but we may be certain that Hale would have been enchanted, and probably leading the charge, were he alive today.

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