Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




SOLAR SCIENCE
Solar Scientists Discover Physical Mechanism Behind Sympathetic Flares
by Staff Writers
Palo Alto CA (SPX) Dec 15, 2010


The Sun on August 1, 2010, as seen by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The AIA instrument was designed and built by the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif. Courtesy: NASA / Lockheed Martin

A serendipitous alignment of high-powered spaceborne solar instruments has finally provided the data allowing scientists to uncover the physical mechanism behind so-called "sympathetic flares" on the Sun.

For over 75 years, solar physicists have been observing near-synchronous explosions in the solar atmosphere, and have wondered whether they were somehow related, but hard evidence for connection has been elusive.

Then, on August 1st of this year, nearly the entire Earth-facing side of the Sun erupted in a tumult of activity, comprising a large solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the solar surface, radio bursts and half a dozen coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

At the same time, three NASA spacecraft-the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft-were ideally positioned to capture both the action on the Earth-facing side of the Sun, and most activity around the backside, leaving a wedge of only 30 degrees of the solar surface unobserved.

"The high-quality simultaneous data we received from SDO and the STEREO spacecraft, and our subsequent analysis, enable us to present unambiguous evidence that solar regions up to 160 degrees away are involved in defining the large-scale coronal field topology for flares and CMEs" said Dr. Carolus Schrijver, of the Solar and Astrophysics Lab at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, and lead author of a paper presented at the American Geophysical Union Winter Meeting in San Francisco.

"Moreover, as far as we are aware, this is the first well-documented case that is highly suggestive that the evolution of that distant field, i.e. the flux emergence in one or more of the three active regions behind the eastern limb of the Sun as seen from Earth and SDO, plays an important role in the destabilization of the magnetic field involved in a series of CMEs aimed for Earth."

The SDO Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) provides a major advance in the ability of physicists to observe the solar corona: full-Sun 4096 x 4096 images with 0.6 arcsec pixels, in temperatures ranging from chromospheric around 10,000 K up to about 10 million K, with images every 12 seconds, without interruption.

The instrument design enables the tracing of perturbations over long distances, even if short-lived or occurring at, or changing across, widely different temperatures. At the time of the August 1st observations, the STEREO spacecraft were each approaching quadrature relative to the Sun-Earth line, thus providing perspectives on activity on most of the eastern and western hemispheres relative to Sun-Earth line.

Moreover, the SDO Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), combined with a computational model of full-sphere flux-transport on the Sun, and global coronal field modeling, revealed the long-distance magnetic connections with fair fidelity.

"We've reached a turning point in our ability to forecast space weather," said Dr. Alan Title of the ATC, and co-author of the paper presented.

"We now have evidence that multiple events can be triggered by other events that occur in regions that cannot be observed from Earth orbit. This gives us a new appreciation of why solar flare and CME predictions have been less than perfect. As we seek to understand the causes of eruptive and explosive events that will improve our ability to forecast space weather, it is clear that we must be able to analyze most of the evolving global solar field, if not all of it."

The events that took place on the Sun on August 1st propagated outward into the solar system and eventually reached Earth on August 5th and 6th. The Rutherford-Appleton Laboratories in the UK designed and built the Heliospheric Imagers on STEREO that can image and follow the material ejected by the Sun all the way to the Earth.

The coronagraphs on STEREO were designed and built by the Naval Research Laboratory, and the EUV Imagers were built by Lockheed Martin. Working together, an international team is now putting into place the many pieces of this very interesting puzzle.

It was not chance, however, that brought together the spacecraft and instruments that teased understanding from the tumultuous events of early August 2010, but rather a decades-long NASA science plan to place instruments throughout the heliosphere called the Heliospheric System Observatory, with the goal of understanding and predicting space weather.

While the Sun makes life possible on the Earth, our technological society is increasingly vulnerable to infrequent but high-impact phenomena that can result from space storms.

Large-scale electrical systems and space-based technology are susceptible to solar-driven space weather events that couple into the Earth's geomagnetic field and from there down to ground systems. Satellite failures and power-grid problems occur with some regularity whenever large solar storms occur, and observations of stars like our Sun suggest that some such storms may be much larger than those experienced in recent history.

Thus, there is a growing need to better understand the climate of space, both in terms of its day-to-day fluctuations and its most extreme conditions. Advancing knowledge of our space environment and its potential impacts is essential to national and international economic, as well as military, security.

The Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory at the ATC conducts basic research into understanding and predicting space weather and the behavior of our Sun including its impacts on Earth and climate. It has a 47-year-long heritage of spaceborne solar instruments. The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC).

LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs and develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil government and commercial customers.

Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense systems; and nanotechnology research and development.

.


Related Links
Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





SOLAR SCIENCE
IBEX Makes First-Ever Images Of Magnetotail Structures
San Antonio TX (SPX) Dec 15, 2010
Invisible to the naked eye, yet massive in structure around the Earth is the magnetosphere, the region of space around the planet that ebbs and flows in response to the million-mile-per-hour flow of charged particles continually blasting from the Sun. NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, designed to image the invisible interactions occurring at the edge of the solar sys ... read more


SOLAR SCIENCE
Robotic Excavations Could Help Get Helium 3 From Moon To Earth

A Softer Landing on the Moon

Neptec Wins Canadian Space Agency Contract To Develop A New Generation Of Lunar Rovers

Mission to far side of moon proposed

SOLAR SCIENCE
Wind And Water Have Shaped Schiaparelli On Mars

The Three Ages Of Mars

Odyssey Orbiter Nears Martian Longevity Record

Drilling For The Future Of Science

SOLAR SCIENCE
'Out of this world' Most Successful Exhibition Of Ruhr 2010 Project

Iran Plans To Build Second Spaceport

Boeing Submits Proposal For Second Round Of NASA CCDev Program

NASA Names Waleed Abdalati As Agency's New Chief Scientist

SOLAR SCIENCE
China Builds Theme Park In Spaceport

Tiangong Space Station Plans Progessing

China-Made Satellite Keeps Remote Areas In Venezuela Connected

Optis Software To Optimize Chinese Satellite Design

SOLAR SCIENCE
ISS Tracks Months-Long Voyages Of Ships At Sea

Busy Day For ISS Commander

NASA Seeks Nonprofit To Manage ISS National Lab Research

Expedition 25 Returns Home

SOLAR SCIENCE
The Flight Of The Dragon

SpaceX Dragon Does Two Orbits Before Pacific Splashdown

NASA, SpaceX giddy over historic orbit launch

ISRO Hands Two Contracts To Arianespace

SOLAR SCIENCE
Qatar-Led International Team Finds Its First Alien World

Planetary Family Portrait Reveals Another Exoplanet

New Pictures Show Fourth Planet In Giant Version Of Our Solar System

Carbon-Rich Planet: A Girl's Best Friend

SOLAR SCIENCE
Apple to open Mac App Store on January 6

ThumbDrive inventor out to prove he is no one-hit wonder

Space Sensor Makes Bolts Smarter

Capasso Lab Demonstrates Highly Unidirectional Whispering Gallery Microlasers




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement