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Posts Tagged ‘SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory)’

Artificial Intelligence Helps Stanford Physicists Predict Dangerous Solar Flares

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA/SDO and the AIA; EVE; and HMI science teams

Credit: NASA/SDO and the AIA; EVE; and HMI science teams

Solar flares can release the energy equivalent of many atomic bombs, enough to cut out satellite communications and damage power grids on Earth, 93 million miles away. The flares arise from twisted magnetic fields that occur all over the sun’s surface, and they increase in frequency every 11 years, a cycle that is now at its maximum.

Using artificial intelligence techniques, Stanford solar physicists Monica Bobra and Sebastien Couvidat have automated the analysis of the largest ever set of solar observations to forecast solar flares using data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which takes more data than any other satellite in NASA history. Their study identifies which features are most useful for predicting solar flares.

Link To Full Story

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Stanford Solar Scientists Solve One Of The Sun’s Mysteries

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA SDO / HMI

Credit: NASA SDO / HMI

Stanford solar scientists have solved one of the few remaining fundamental mysteries of how the sun works.

The mechanism, known as meridional flow, works something like a conveyor belt. Magnetic plasma migrates north to south on the sun’s surface, from the equator to the poles, and then cycles into the sun’s interior on its way back to the equator.

The rate and depth beneath the surface of the sun at which this process occurs is critical for predicting the sun’s magnetic and flare activity, but has remained largely unknown until now.

Full Story: http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2013/pr-solar-magnetic-field-082913.html

Solar Dynamic Loops Reveal A Simultaneous Explosion And Implosion, Plus Evidence For Magnetic Reconnection


Credit: NASA / SDO / University of Glasgow

Credit: NASA / SDO / University of Glasgow

Movies of giant loops projecting from the surface of the Sun are giving new insights into the complex mechanisms that drive solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). These eruptions release vast energy and electrically charged particles that can affect the Earth through space weather. Imagery from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), used in two separate studies, shows the dynamics of loops before, during and after eruptions. Results have been presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews.

Coronal loops are giant magnetic arches filled with hot plasma at temperatures of over a million degrees Celsius. The structures are anchored in the dense photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun. The loops form the building blocks of the corona, the halo surrounding the Sun that can be seen during a total eclipse. They are dynamic structures that oscillate back and forth after explosive events such as solar flares.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow observed four groups of loops that contracted rapidly during a flare on 9 March 2012. The loops had a ‘staggered start’ to their collapse, showing delays of 60–80 seconds from the inner to the outer loops.

“This event is a great example of a simultaneous implosion and explosion,” said Dr Paulo Simões. “Our interpretation is that energy is transferred from the magnetic field to power the flare, leaving a pocket of reduced magnetic support that causes an implosion. The staggering between the loop contractions is caused by the time delay needed for the ‘information’ about the loss of support to travel outwards.”

Full Story: http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/224-news-2013/2313-solar-dynamic-loops-reveal-a-simultaneous-explosion-and-implosion-plus-evidence-for-magnetic-reconnection
Full Video: http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/paulo/implosion.avi

Solar Prominences Put On Strange And Beautiful Show In The Sun’s Sky


Rotating disc in solar prominence. Credit: NASA / SDO / Li / Smith / Aberystwyth University

Rotating disc in solar prominence. Credit: NASA / SDO / Li / Smith / Aberystwyth University

Cloud spotting seems to be growing in popularity as a hobby here on Earth. Now scientists studying the solar atmosphere are building their own collection of fascinating moving features that they’ve spotted in the Sun’s sky. The unusual solar prominences include a giant disc that rotates for several hours, feathery streamers as long as fifty Earths, a super-heated jet striking the top of a prominence and twisted ribbons flowing in opposite directions at a million kilometres per hour.

The features were discovered by Dr Xing Li and PhD student, Jeff Smith, of Aberystwyth University using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) telescope on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. The findings have been presented at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews.

Prominences are – relatively – cold gaseous features, with temperatures around 5000 degrees Celsius compared to the surrounding the hot solar atmosphere of about 1-2 million degrees. They can be seen as towering features extending outwards from the Sun’s surface, often in the shape of a loop. They are called filaments when viewed against the solar disc, appearing as dark stripes because the cold gases they contain absorb the light emitted from below. Solar prominences and filaments supply most of the material released in coronal mass ejections, vast eruptions from the Sun’s atmosphere that can cause space weather and create geomagnetic storms on Earth.

Full Story: http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/224-news-2013/2315-solar-prominences-put-on-strange-and-beautiful-show-in-the-suns-sky

SDO Spots a Late Phase in Solar Flares

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA/SDO/Tom Woods

Credit: NASA/SDO/Tom Woods

The sun’s surface dances. Giant loops of magnetized solar material burst up, twist, and fall back down. Some erupt, shooting radiation flares and particles out into space. Forced to observe this dance from afar, scientists use all the tools at their disposal to look for patterns and connections to discover what causes these great explosions. Mapping these patterns could help scientists predict the onset of space weather that bursts toward Earth from the sun, interfering with communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) signals.

Analysis of 191 solar flares since May 2010 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has recently shown a new piece in the pattern: some 15 percent of the flares have a distinct “late phase flare” some minutes to hours later that has never before been fully observed. This late phase of the flare pumps much more energy out into space than previously realized.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/news/late-phase-flares.html

NASA Spacecraft Observes New Characteristics Of Solar Flares

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, has provided scientists new information about solar flares indicating an increase in strength and longevity that is more than previously thought.

Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. They are the solar system’s largest explosive events and are seen as bright areas on the sun. Their energy can reach Earth’s atmosphere and affect operations of Earth-orbiting communication and navigation satellites.

Using SDO’s Extreme ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) instrument, scientists have observed that radiation from solar flares continue for up to five hours beyond the main phase. The new data also show the total energy from this extended phase of the solar flare’s peak sometimes has more energy than the initial event.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/sep/HQ_11-291_SDO_Solar_Flares.html