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.

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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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