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5/8/17: Space Weather Model Simulates Solar Storms From Nowhere. An international team of scientists has developed a model that simulates the evolution of stealthy solar storms. The scientists relied upon NASA missions STEREO and SOHO for this work, fine-tuning their model until the simulations matched the space-based observations. Their work shows how a slow, quiet process can unexpectedly create a twisted mass of magnetic fields on the sun, which then pinches off and speeds out into space — all without any advance warning.
5/5/17: NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Will Take 1,500 Images of Sun in 5 Minutes. On May 5, 2017, scientists launched a sounding rocket 200 miles up into the atmosphere, where in just five minutes, it will take 1,500 images of the sun. The NASA-funded RAISE mission is designed to scrutinize split-second changes occurring near the sun’s active regions — areas of intense, complex magnetic activity that can give rise to solar flares, which eject energy and solar material out into space.
4/10/17: Solar Storms Can Drain Electrical Charge Above Earth. New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth's poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles. The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.
3/31/17: PPPL and Max Planck physicists reveal experimental verification of a key source of fast reconnection of magnetic fields. Magnetic reconnection, a universal process that triggers solar flares and northern lights and can disrupt cell phone service and fusion experiments, occurs much faster than theory says that it should. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics have discovered a source of the speed-up in a common form of reconnection. Their findings could lead to more accurate predictions of damaging space weather and improved fusion experiments.
3/30/17: Rossby waves, large movement patterns in the atmosphere, have been found on the sun, and their discovery could help make better long-term space weather predictions. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein, Producer. Read new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Read the full study: The detection of Rossby-like waves on the Sun.
3/28/17: Igniting a Solar Flare in the Corona with Lower-Atmosphere Kindling. Recent images have revealed the emergence of small-scale magnetic fields in the lower reaches of the corona researchers say may be linked to the onset of a main flare.
3/22/17: NASA’s SDO Sees a Stretch of Spotless Sun. For 15 days starting on March 7, 2017, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, returned visible light images of a yolk-like spotless sun. This is the longest stretch of spotlessness since the last solar minimum in April 2010, indicating the solar cycle is marching on toward the next minimum, which scientists predict will occur between 2019—2020.
3/13/17: New research on Northern Lights will improve satellite navigation accuracy. Researchers at the University of Bath have gained new insights into the mechanisms of the Northern Lights, providing an opportunity to develop better satellite technology that can negate outages caused by this natural phenomenon. The presence of plasma turbulence within the Northern Lights was traditionally deemed responsible for causing GNSS inaccuracies. However, this latest research found that turbulence does not exist, suggesting new, unknown mechanisms are actually responsible for outages on GNSS signals.
3/2/17: NASA Scientists Demonstrate Technique to Improve Particle Warnings that Protect Astronauts. Scientists from NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have shown that data from a ground-based instrument called K-Cor can give scientists early warning of a certain type of incoming space weather that can impact astronauts.
2/11/17: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory: Year 7 Ultra HD (4k). The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has now captured nearly seven years worth of ultra-high resolution solar footage. This time lapse shows that full run from two of SDO's instruments. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger.
2/10/17: Astronomers Estimate That The Solar Nebula Lasted 3 To 4 Million Years. By studying the remanent magnetizations in ancient meteorites, astronomers have determined that the solar nebula — the vast of disc of gas and dust that ultimately gave rise to the solar system — lasted around 3 to 4 million years.
2/7/17: What happened to the sun over 7,000 years ago? Analysis of tree rings reveals highly abnormal solar activity in the mid-Holocene. By analyzing the level of a carbon isotope in tree rings from a specimen of an ancient bristlecone pine, researchers have revealed that the sun exhibited a unique pattern of activity in 5480 BC. By comparing this event with other similar but more recent phenomena, they reported that this event may have involved a change in the sun's magnetic activity, or a number of successive solar burst emissions.
2/6/17: Fermi Sees Gamma Rays from Far Side Solar Flares. NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has observed high-energy light from solar eruptions located on the far side of the sun. This apparent paradox is providing solar scientists with a unique tool for exploring how charged particles are accelerated to nearly the speed of light and move across the sun during solar flares.
2/3/17: NOAA's GOES-16 EXIS Instrument Observes Solar Flares. On January 21, 2017, the GOES-16 Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS) observed solar flares. EXIS measures solar flares at several wavelengths and improves upon current capabilities by capturing larger flares, measuring the location of the flares on the sun, and measuring flares in more wavelengths.1/29/17: A Space Weather Report: Preparing Space Explorers for Bad Weather throughout the Solar System. C. Alex Young discusses the challenges of dealing with the harshness of space and making sure travelers can safely reach their destination as they reach for the planets and beyond. [75 min. webcast]
1/26/17: New Space Weather Model Helps Simulate Magnetic Structure of Solar Storms. The magnetic field of solar eruptions such as CMEs are difficult to predict and can interact with Earth’s magnetic fields, causing space weather effects. Built to simulate solar storms, a new tool called EEGGL-Eruptive Event Generator (Gibson and Low)- helps NASA study how a CME might travel through space to Earth and what magnetic configuration it will have when it arrives.
1/17/17:ALMA Starts Observing the Sun New images taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile have revealed otherwise invisible details of our Sun, including a new view of the dark, contorted centre of a sunspot that is nearly twice the diameter of the Earth. The images are the first ever made of the Sun with a facility where European Southern Observatory is a partner. The results are an important expansion of the range of observations that can be used to probe the physics of our nearest star.
1/6/17: NASA Study Finds Solar Storms Could Spark Soils at Moon's Poles. Powerful solar storms can charge up the soil in frigid, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles, and may possibly produce "sparks" that could vaporize and melt the soil, perhaps as much as meteoroid impacts, according to NASA-funded research.