Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Era In Space Weather Prediction: Scientists Accurately Simulate Appearance Of Sun's Corona During Eclipse

Date:
June 26, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
The most true-to-life computer simulation ever made of our sun's multimillion-degree outer atmosphere, the corona, successfully predicted its actual appearance during the March 29, 2006, solar eclipse, scientists have announced.

Scientists simulated the appearance of the Sun's corona during a March, 2006, solar eclipse.
Credit: Science Applications International Corporation and NASA

The most true-to-life computer simulation ever made of our sun's multimillion-degree outer atmosphere, the corona, successfully predicted its actual appearance during the March 29, 2006, solar eclipse, scientists have announced.

Related Articles


The research, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), marks the beginning of a new era in space weather prediction. The results are presented today at the American Astronomical Society (AAS)'s Solar Physics Division meeting in Durham, N.H.

"This confirms that computer models can describe the physics of the solar corona," said Zoran Mikic of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), San Diego, Calif.

The turbulent corona is threaded with magnetic fields generated beneath the visible solar surface. The evolution of these magnetic fields causes violent eruptions and solar storms originating in the corona.

Like a rubber band that's been twisted too tightly, solar magnetic fields suddenly snap to a new shape while blasting billions of tons of plasma into space, at millions of miles per hour, in what scientists call a coronal mass ejection (CME). Or the magnetic field explodes as a solar flare with the force of up to a billion 1-megaton nuclear bombs.

When directed at Earth, solar flares and CMEs can disrupt satellites, communications and power systems.

"Finding out that a hurricane is bearing down on you isn't much good if the warning only gives you an hour to prepare," said Paul Bellaire, program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric Sciences, which funded the research. "That's the situation we're in now with space weather. Being able to determine the structure of the solar wind at its source -- the sun -- will give us the lead time we need to make space weather predictions truly useful."

By accurately simulating the behavior of the corona, scientists hope to predict when it will produce flares and CMEs, the same way the National Weather Service uses computer simulations of Earth's atmosphere to predict when it will produce thunderstorms or hurricanes.

The computer model was based on spacecraft observations of magnetic activity on the sun's surface, which affects and shapes the corona above it. The SAIC team released simulated "photographs" of the March 29 eclipse 13 days and again 5 days before the eclipse.

During a total solar eclipse, the moon blocks direct light coming from the sun, so the much fainter corona is visible, resembling a white, lacy veil surrounding the black disk of the moon. That is the only time the corona is visible from Earth without special instruments.

Because the corona is always changing, each eclipse looks different. The simulated photographs closely resembled actual photos of the eclipse, "providing reassurance that the model may be able to predict space weather events," said Mikic.

Previous simulations were based on simplified models, so the calculations could be completed in a reasonable time by computers available then. The new simulation is the first to base its calculations on the physics of how energy is transferred in the corona.

Even with today's powerful computers, the calculations required four days to complete on about 700 computer processors.

The scientific team includes Mikic, Jon Linker, Pete Riley, Roberto Lionello, and Viacheslav Titov, all of SAIC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "New Era In Space Weather Prediction: Scientists Accurately Simulate Appearance Of Sun's Corona During Eclipse." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060626231813.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, June 26). New Era In Space Weather Prediction: Scientists Accurately Simulate Appearance Of Sun's Corona During Eclipse. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060626231813.htm
National Science Foundation. "New Era In Space Weather Prediction: Scientists Accurately Simulate Appearance Of Sun's Corona During Eclipse." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060626231813.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins