NASA Satellites Recreate Solar Eruption In 3D

Posted: Mar 11 2018, 3:21pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 11 2018, 3:31pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

NASA Satellites Recreate Solar Eruption in 3D
Credit: NASA

The 3-dimensional model simulates interplanetary shocks when they erupt from the Sun at extreme speeds

NASA scientists have created a 3D model of coronal mass ejections by combining data from three satellites. The effort resulted in a detailed mapping of coronal mass ejections that would never be possible otherwise.

Coronal mass ejections or CME are sudden and violent release of plasma and magnetic field from sun’s corona or upper atmosphere. Just as ships move through water and form bow waves, CMEs ejected from sun trigger interplanetary shocks and propel a wave of high energy particles at extreme speeds. These solar particles usually take one to three days to reach near- Earth space and can impact satellites in space or interfere with communication systems on ground.

Understanding how shocks develop and accelerates can lead to more accurate predictions of such events. However, our knowledge about CME structure is very limited and largely depends on models from satellite observations.

In the latest effort, researchers used data from three satellites to simulate the shock’s behavior in a detailed manner. The new model is based on observations of two different eruptions from three satellites: ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO and NASA’s twin satellites STEREO-Behind and STEREO-Ahead. One CME was erupted in March 2011 while the second was spotted in February 2014.

“Each spacecraft’s observations alone weren’t sufficient to model the shocks. But with three sets of eyes on the eruption, each of them spaced nearly evenly around the Sun, the scientists could use their models to recreate a 3-D view. Their work confirmed long-held theoretical predictions of a strong shock near the CME nose and a weaker shock at the sides.” NASA statement reads.

Three-dimensional structure of coronal mass ejections allowed scientists to determine the density of the plasma around the shock as well as speed and strength of the energized particles. They can use this data to see how CME affects Earth's own magnetic fields – the magnetosphere.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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