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Observing the Sun Through a Thunderstorm

Submitter: Richard Fallows
Description: The wide bandwidth and high time and frequency resolutions available with LOFAR enable radio emission from the Sun to be studied in unprecedented detail. The recent period of high solar activity has resulted in many solar radio "bursts" being visible in the dynamic spectra of LOFAR observations of the Sun.

Many of these bursts can be classified as "Type-III' solar radio bursts. These appear in a dynamic spectrum as a rapid drift from high to low frequencies. Their source is usually above an active region on the Sun and they arise from electrons being accelerated within a solar flare and propagating along magnetic field lines through the solar corona and sometimes out into interplanetary space.

On 5th July 2012 a short observation of the Sun was taken using the Superterp. A type-III solar radio burst was seen about seven minutes into the observation and can be seen in the image as the strong radio activity starting at about the 482 second mark and drifting over the space of five seconds from the higher frequencies to the lower.

Also at this time, there was a powerful thunderstorm passing over the region. The strong full-bandwidth emission seen in the image is most likely to be due to lightning flashes. Evidently a thunderstorm is no barrier to observing the Sun!
Copyright: RAF
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