Solar flares are some of the most potential catastrophic events. Earth’s magnetic field can deflect normal solar activity, creating auroras, but how about bigger and more dangerous solar flares?
A team of researchers from the International Space Science Institute came up with a novel method of better tracking those potentially dangerous events.
Here is what you need to know.
New Way of Detecting Solar Storms: How it Works
CMEs, which stands for coronal mass ejections, are rare, and when they occur, they usually don’t strike us.
Back in 2012, a giant solar flare missed our planet, but it could have hit power grids and wrecked satellites on Earth’s whole hemisphere. The good news is that such flares can be detected via conventional sensing methods because of their positioning and dimension.
Unfortunately, the same method doesn’t work for those CMEs aimed right to Earth. These CMEs are also known as stealth CMEs.
How did the team of researchers come with the new method?
Detecting CMEs better
The researchers used NASA’s STEREO spacecraft data that tracked four stealth CMEs back to their origins on the Sun.
Below, you can notice four different times and imagining methods that captured the 3 March 2011 CME.
The top row uses intensity images and the second image differencing with a permanent temporal separation. As for the other two, the third uses something called WPE (Wavelet Packet Equalization), while the fourth, MGN (Multi-scale Gaussian Normalization).
Note that brightening and dimming areas are shown with arrows. The active region AR 11165 is surrounded by an arrow in the first column.
The team examined the images with other data gathered and noticed something quite intriguing: a dynamic brightening pattern that occurred for all four stealth CMEs.
According to researchers, those changes show how a CME forms. Such a thing allows us to track and get ready for whatever a huge CME could bring.
ESA launched its Solar Orbiter last year, so more data will soon be available to help researchers. Understanding is essential to defeating this potentially deadly environmental hazard.