Scientists have detected massive waves, known as 'sausage waves', in giant magnetic holes on the surface of the Sun, bringing a step closer to unveiling the secrets behind coronal heating.

The team from the University of Sheffield and Queen's University Belfast studied a magnetic region of the Sun much smaller than a sunspot, however its size was still many times greater than the size of the UK.

Their research has shown that the magnetic hole they observed, which is also known as a pore, is able to channel energy generated deep inside the Sun, along the magnetic field to the Sun's upper atmosphere. The magnetic field emerging through the pore is over 1,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth, the scientists say.

The energy being transported is in the form of a very special form of waves, known as sausage waves, scientists say. The magnetic hole is seen to increase and decrease in size periodically which is a characteristic feature of the sausage wave.

Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen of the University of Sheffield, who led the study said: This is a fascinating new discovery in line with a number of discoveries made in recent years by the team. It is the first time that 'sausage waves' have been detected in the Sun with such detail. Analysing these waves may bring us closer to understanding the physical mechanisms in the atmosphere of a star.