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A Note on the Constitution of the Sun

Author(s): Magnus H. G.

Journal: Progress in Physics
ISSN 1555-5534

Volume: 3;
Start page: 33;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: sodium hydroxide | gaseous flame | luminosity | Sun

Patrice Robitaille (TAV College, Montreal, Canada) provides a translation of Heinrich Gustav Magnus’ classic work Notiz ¨uber die Beschaenheit der Sonne, as it appeared in March 1864 within Poggendor’s Annalen der Physik und Chemie,1864, v.131, 510–512. The article had previously been translated into French: Notice sur la constitution du soleil. Archives des science physique et naturelles (Gen`eve), 1864, v.20, 171–175. This work formed the basis of the present translation. Heinrich Gustav Magnus (May 2, 1802 – April 4, 1870) was a professor at the University of Berlin and had studied in Paris under Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac. He would count amongst his students Wilhelm Beetz, Hermann Helmholtz, Gustav Wiedemann, John Tyndall, Rudolph Weber, and Adolph Wullner (Heinrich Gustav Magnus, Platinum Metals Review, 1976, v.20(1), 21–24). In his Notiz, Magnus demonstrated that the addition of sodium hydroxide to the gaseous flame resulted in a tremendous increase in luminosity. Magnus’ work would inspire Father Secchi to propose that the Sun was a gaseous globe whose photosphere contained condensed particulate matter (Secchi A. Sulla Struttura della Fotosfera Solare. Bulletino Meteorologico dell’ Osservatorio del Collegio Romano, 1864, v.3(11), 1–3; English translation in Progr. Phys., 2011, v.3, 30–32). Magnus’ report on the constitution of the Sun would continue to impact solar physics for two generations.
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