Questions for ‘Cool Jobs: Solar sleuthing’

Super-hot, electrically charged gas (plasma) rises up in an arc from a sunspot. Scientists still know relatively little about how the sun works, despite its being our closest star. 


To accompany feature “Cool Jobs: Solar sleuthing” 


Before Reading:

1.   Take a guess: How hot do you think the surface of the sun is?             

2.   What do you think the sun looks like up close?

During Reading: 

1.    What is a solar flare?

2.    What are the dangers of a giant solar flare, also known as a “super flare”?

3.    How often does Steven Saar’s research predict super flares from our sun should happen?

4.    What method does Saar use to study the sun “indirectly”?

5.    What and where is the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope?

6.    What can scientists learn by breaking up a beam of sunlight into different wavelengths?

7.    What is this called?

8.    What question were Patrick Antolin and other scientists trying to answer by studying the sun’s magnetic waves?

9.    What is magnetic resonance?

10.  What two factors did the scientists show contribute to a heating of the sun’s atmosphere?

After Reading: 

1.    What are some of the mysteries that still remain about the sun?

2.    What was the most surprising thing you learned about the sun from this article?


1.   One astronomical unit (AU) is the average distance between the Earth and sun. That’s about 93 million miles. On average, it takes the sun’s light 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth. Based on that relationship, if Jupiter is 5.2 AU from the sun, how long will it take sunlight to reach that planet? What about Neptune, at 30 AU from the sun? The Oort Cloud on the outer edges of the solar system (a region where comets may originate) is a distant 100,000 AU from the sun. How long would it take sunlight to reach there? Show your work.