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Posts Tagged ‘space weather’

NASA STEREO Observes One Of The Fastest CMEs On Record


Credit: NASA/STEREO

Credit: NASA/STEREO

On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. clocked this giant cloud, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun.

Conversations began to buzz and the emails to fly: this was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO, which since its launch in 2006 has helped make CME speed measurements much more precise. Such an unusually strong bout of space weather gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events affect the space around the sun, as well as to improve their understanding of what causes them.

“Between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second puts it without question as one of the top five CMEs ever measured by any spacecraft,” says solar scientist Alex Young at Goddard. “And if it’s at the top of that velocity range it’s probably the fastest.”

Link To Full Story And Videos

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U-M Space Weather Model Picked To Improve US Warning System

December 18, 2013 Leave a comment

A University of Michigan space weather model beat out four other contenders for a spot in the national Space Weather Prediction Center’s forecasting toolbox.

It is the first time that computer models based on a firm understanding of physics have overtaken simpler, statistics-based models to predict magnetic disturbances due to space weather. The new model can also give information about where the effects of a geomagnetic storm will be weaker or stronger around Earth.

Space weather forecasts are important for protecting satellites, predicting when GPS signals become unreliable, and in the worst case, preventing far-reaching and long-term electrical power outages.

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Researchers Reveal Model Of Sun’s Magnetic Field


Image credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

Image credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

Researchers at the Universities of Leeds and Chicago have uncovered an important mechanism behind the generation of astrophysical magnetic fields such as that of the Sun.

Scientists have known since the 18th Century that the Sun regularly oscillates between periods of high and low solar activity in an 11-year cycle, but have been unable to fully explain how this cycle is generated.

In the ‘Information Age’, it has become increasingly important to be able to understand the Sun’s magnetic activity, as it is the changes in its magnetic field that are responsible for ‘space weather’ phenomena, including solar flares and coronal mass ejections. When this weather heads in the direction of Earth it can damage satellites, endanger astronauts on the International Space Station and cause power grid outages on the ground.

The research, published in the journal Nature, explains how the cyclical nature of these large-scale magnetic fields emerges, providing a solution to the mathematical equations governing fluids and electromagnetism for a large astrophysical body.

Full Story: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/3402/researchers_reveal_model_of_suns_magnetic_field

After-Effects Of Saturn’s Super Storm Shine On

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturn’s giant storm, as seen at visible wavelengths during much of 2011. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The heat-seeking capabilities of the international Cassini spacecraft and two ground-based telescopes have provided the first look at the aftermath of Saturn’s ‘Great Springtime Storm’. Concealed from the naked eye, a giant oval vortex is persisting long after the visible effects of the storm subsided.

But in new reports that focus on the temperatures, winds and composition of Saturn’s atmosphere, scientists find that the spectacular cloud displays were only part of the story. Much of the associated activity took place beyond the reach of visible-light cameras, and the after-effects are still continuing today.

“It’s extremely unusual, as we can only see the vortex at infrared wavelengths – we can’t tell that it is there simply by looking at the cloud cover.”

Full story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMLPIMFL8H_index_1.html
Also: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=50994
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/cassini20121025.html

NASA Observations Point To ‘Dry Ice’ Snowfall On Mars

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data have given scientists the clearest evidence yet of carbon-dioxide snowfalls on Mars. This reveals the only known example of carbon-dioxide snow falling anywhere in our solar system.

Frozen carbon dioxide, better known as “dry ice,” requires temperatures of about minus 193 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 125 Celsius), which is much colder than needed for freezing water. Carbon-dioxide snow reminds scientists that although some parts of Mars may look quite Earth-like, the Red Planet is very different. The report is being published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

“These are the first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds,” said the report’s lead author, Paul Hayne of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We firmly establish the clouds are composed of carbon dioxide — flakes of Martian air — and they are thick enough to result in snowfall accumulation at the surface.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-286

Solar Eruptions Cause Sunquakes

April 2, 2012 1 comment

A study led by UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory has shown for the first time that sunquakes can be produced during eruptions of magnetic field and charged particles, as the immense magnetic structure blasts off into the Solar System. The results will be presented by Dr Sergei Zharkov at the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 in Manchester on Friday 30th March 2012.

The first observation of a sunquake was reported by Kosovichev & Zharkova in the late 1990s. During the last decade it has become well established that explosions in the Sun’s atmosphere, known as solar flares, can create sunquakes through the impact of powerful beams of particles which travel into the Sun. This new study shows that eruptions of material known as coronal mass ejections are also able to produce sunquakes.

Full Story: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/meetings/nam2012/pressreleases/nam16.html

Huge Tornadoes Discovered on the Sun


Solar tornadoes several times as wide as the Earth can be generated in the solar atmosphere, say researchers in the UK. A solar tornado was discovered using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) telescope on board the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite. A movie of the tornado will be presented at the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 in Manchester on Thursday 29th March.

“This is perhaps the first time that such a huge solar tornado is filmed by an imager. Previously much smaller solar tornadoes were found my SOHO satellite. But they were not filmed,” says Dr. Xing Li, of Aberystwyth University.

Dr. Huw Morgan, co-discover of the solar tornado, adds, “This unique and spectacular tornado must play a role in triggering global solar storms.”

Full Story: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/meetings/nam2012/pressreleases/nam14.html