Modeling the Riddle of the Sun’s Explosive CME’s

DURHAM, N.H. — Four decades of active research and debate by the solar physics community have failed to bring consensus on what drives the sun’s powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that can have profound “space weather” effects on Earth-based power grids and satellites in near-Earth geospace.

In a paper just published in Nature Physics, an international team of space scientists, including a researcher from the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center (SSC), explains the mysterious physical mechanisms underlying the origin of CMEs. Their findings, based on state-of-the-art computer simulations, show the intricate connection between motions in the sun’s interior and these eruptions and could lead to better forecasting of hazardous space weather conditions.

CMEs are clouds of magnetic fields and plasma ­- a hot gas composed of charged particles. The fastest and most powerful of these events can explode from the sun at speeds of more than a million miles per hour and release more energy than the current worldwide stockpile of nuclear weapons.

“By studying CMEs we learn not only about the drivers of space weather but also about the structure of the atmosphere of the sun and other sun-like stars,” says lead author Ilia Roussev of the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Geomagnetic storms caused by CMEs can disrupt power grids, satellites that operate global positioning systems and telecommunication networks, pose a threat to astronauts in outer space, lead to rerouting of flights over the polar regions, and cause spectacular auroras. The storms occur when a solar eruption hits Earth’s protective magnetic bubble, or magnetosphere.

The Nature Physics paper, titled “Explaining fast ejections of plasma and exotic X-ray emission from the solar corona,” provides an explanation of the origin of fast ejections of magnetized plasma from the sun’s atmosphere and associated X-ray emissions. It thus demonstrates a fundamental connection between the magnetic processes inside the sun’s interior and the formation of CMEs.

“Through this type of computer modeling we are able to understand how invisible bundles of magnetic field rise from under the surface of the sun into interplanetary space and propagate towards Earth with potentially damaging results”, says SSC researcher Noé Lugaz of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. He adds, “These fundamental phenomena cannot be observed even with the most advanced instruments on board NASA satellites but they can be revealed by numerical simulations.”

A long-standing goal of the solar physics community has been the forecasting of solar eruptions and predictions of their impact on the Earth. In the paper, the authors note, “the model described here enables us not only to capture the magnetic evolution of the CME, but also to calculate the increased X-ray flux directly, which is a significant advantage over the existing models.”

The work was supported by a CAS grant and two National Science Foundation grants in the U.S. – one at the University of Hawaii and another at UNH. In addition to Roussev and Lugaz, the international team includes Klaus Galsgaard from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, Cooper Downs from Predictive Science, Inc. in California, Igor Sokolov from the University of Michigan, Jun Lin from the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, and Elena Moise from the Institute of Geodynamics of the Romanian Academy of Science.

The Nature Physics paper can be viewed at
http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nphys2427.pdf

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32 Responses to Modeling the Riddle of the Sun’s Explosive CME’s

  1. Paywalled paper. Big no-no for us pensioners.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Sounds good. Maybe we could help them with parameters for prediction.

  3. Maus says:

    “These fundamental phenomena cannot be observed even with the most advanced instruments on board NASA satellites but they can be revealed by numerical simulations.”

    Someone sort out how this means anything other than: “Our theory is wholly untestable.”

  4. Justthinkin says:

    Oh goodie.Another model.Maybe they can try a Matchbox car model?

    Maus says Someone sort out how this means anything other than: “Our theory is wholly untestable.” And this has stopped the cAGW crowd how?

  5. cunningstuff says:

    Whenever I try to wrap my head around what is actually occurring in the sun, I begin to feel faintly overwhelmed, wondering what currents of pure heat and energy are spinning around in that giant mass at such high speeds. To even begin to sort out that spaghetti like tangle of energy, to begin to map it with some understanding, it is just beautiful.

  6. mondo says:

    Now this is a topic I would like to hear Oliver Manuel’s opinion on!

  7. “Four decades of active research and debate by the solar physics community have failed to bring consensus”

    If four decades of real science have failed to bring a consensus, how can a couple of decades of smoke and mirrors claim consensus in the climate community? Oh…right….Science….

  8. Jim Cripwell says:

    From the paper “He adds, “These fundamental phenomena cannot be observed even with the most advanced instruments on board NASA satellites but they can be revealed by numerical simulations.”

    I think this illustrates my fundamental problem with the use of models, particularly as they relate to CAGW. I have no objections to the use of models when they lead to some form of observation, some form of new empirical data. But models by themsleves can never prove anything. It is not clear from the extract whether this study leads to an idea of what new might be observed. If it does, then it is a useful study. If it does not, then it is just hypothetical musings.

  9. Steve C says:

    mondo says: (September 27, 2012 at 3:27 am)
    “Now this is a topic I would like to hear Oliver Manuel’s opinion on!”

    Just what I was thinking …

  10. HelmutU says:

    In the first sentence tells about no consensus between scientist about CME. But science has nothing to with scintific consensus. You need a theory, which explains the known facts and can make predictions, which can be tested by measurements.

  11. Grey Lensman says:

    Computer simulations!!!!!!!!!

    Nuff said, I got a bridge for sale…………………………………

  12. BillR says:

    Plasma physics is hard. In general, there are no closed form solutions to the field equations, so the only way to make any semblance of predictions about specific behavior is by numeric simulation. The behavior resembles chaotic behavior of ordinary fluids, but it isn’t that at all. Forces created by electric and magnetic fields in plasma are many, many orders of magnitude stronger than gravity, and ionized material interacting in these fields are in accordance with Maxwell’s equations and not just Navier-Stokes’ equations.

    Fortunately, plasma phenomena are scalable, so what is observed in the laboratory also applies on cosmic scales. The probems of modeling this are similar to those facing climate modeling. But a big difference between plasma physics and climate physics is that in plasma physics, the electro-magnetic forces are huge, and so dominate the behavior.

    I personally believe that space plasma has a more dominate role in earth’s climate than climate scientists are yet willing to admit.

    For an introduction into plasma theory see: http://www.plasmas.org/basics.htm
    For an introduction into cosmic scale plasma theory see: http://www.plasmacosmology.net/

  13. Their findings, based on state-of-the-art computer simulations, show the intricate connection between motions in the sun’s interior and these eruptions and could lead to better forecasting of hazardous space weather conditions.
    As usual, this is no news:

    http://www.leif.org/research/Hale-Flares.pdf

    “We report here that flares and microflares also concentrate at the Hale boundaries, implying that flux emergence and the creation of free magnetic energy in the corona also have a direct cause in the deep interior” and “The linkage between (the global heliospheric field) and the preferential emergence of stressed field could perhaps be tested by simulations of interior magnetic energy
    transport” which they have now done.

  14. Joe's World(progressive evolution) says:

    Anthony,

    Are these guy’s brain dead???

    Do they not realize that our solar systems forward momentum speed?
    Plus the rotational speed and diameter?
    Every degree of latitude of the sun has a different rotational velocity speed.

    http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/lalonde-joe/world-calculations.pdf

    http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/lalonde-joe/world-calculations-2.pdf

    This is the same with our planet at rotational velocity differences.

    Na, ignoring is what these guys do very well!!!

  15. RACookPE1978 says:

    Leif: I’m not sure I’m phrasing the question properly, but perhaps you can decipher its intent or implication anyway.

    How long does it take for these “loops” (circulation patterns ?) take to move material from the interior “out” to the surface of the sun we “see” as its radiating surface?

  16. RACookPE1978 says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:36 am
    How long does it take for these “loops” (circulation patterns ?) take to move material from the interior “out” to the surface of the sun we “see” as its radiating surface?
    A few weeks

  17. highflight56433 says:

    Is liken to a thunderstorm and the products they produce; being that of rain, hail, lightening, and tornado. The interior of the sun has storms producing exterior products as well. The CME is a product similar to the lightening that emerges out the top of a thunderstorm. We just can see the solar storms withing the sun.

  18. highflight56433 says:

    …oooops. Just read “We just cannot see the solar storms within the sun.” Not enough coffee yet.

  19. highflight56433 says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:55 am
    “We just cannot see the solar storms within the sun.”
    Yes, we can. http://hmi.stanford.edu/Press/18Aug2011/

  20. Steve R W. says:

    The Sun will always be the game changer and the driver for Earth. It’s represents 99.9% mass of the solar system.

    The Solar Storm Threat to America’s Power Grid
    Laurence Hecht

    Warnings have gone unheeded; we need to begin mitigation remedies now.

    https://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2011/Spring-2011/Power_Grid_Threat.pdf

  21. highflight56433 says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    September 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    highflight56433 says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:55 am
    “We just cannot see the solar storms within the sun.”
    Yes, we can. http://hmi.stanford.edu/Press/18Aug2011/

    Ok. The average Joe can watch the development and progress of a thunderstorm and the products it produces that are visible; whereas the average Joe is not seeing the CME type events about to fry their droid. It takes folks like you to study and decipher solar data: )

  22. mwhite says:

    “Based on the movements of this cycle’s prominences, Altrock says that an especially weak solar maximum took place in the sun’s northern hemisphere around July last year (arxiv.org/abs/1209.2969).”

    http://climaterealists.com/?id=10289

    “According to Altrock, the southern prominences are still on the move, but slowly. If they continue at the current rate, he says, the south will not reach its maximum until February 2014.”

  23. Byron says:

    highflight56433 says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:54 am
    “We can just see the solar storms writhing within the sun.”
    ——————————————————————————–
    At a glance that`s what I thought You were going for in Your first comment

  24. ferdberple says:

    BillR says:
    September 27, 2012 at 5:42 am
    I personally believe that space plasma has a more dominate role in earth’s climate
    ===============
    Polar ice correlates much better with the movement of the earth’s magnetic poles than it does with CO2. However, that only means that changes in the ice mass must be changing the magnetic field.

    Otherwise, if changes in the solar wind reaching the poles, as a result of changes in the magnetic field were changing the polar ice, then this would mean that CO2 is not the cause, and we would lose all our funding for AGW research.

    Therefore, the earth’s magnetic field changes cannot be the cause climate change. Climate Science 101.

  25. ferdberple says:

    Joe’s World(progressive evolution) says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:08 am
    Every degree of latitude of the sun has a different rotational velocity speed.
    ==========
    Perhaps even more strange is that the equator completes one revolution in 25 days, while the poles take 35 days. The force required to do this is far from trivial. Far from trivial. Yet it is almost completely ignored when we consider the suns effects on the earth. Why? Perhaps because it is invisible to our senses. Out of sight, out of mind.

  26. OssQss says:

    If anyone is interested in being notified of any significant space weather events, you can sign up here.

    https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov/LoginWebForm.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fproductsubscriptionservice%2f

    You will want to alter the filters so you get only what you want and not all of them or your inbox will fill up quickly.

  27. otsar says:

    I wonder if there are any traces on earth of CME effects when the earth’s magnetic poles are in the act of reversing.
    If I remember correctly the poles reverse ~~ 15KY, which means we are not too far from a reversal, on a geologic time scale.

  28. Doc Duke says:

    Does anyone know the source of the picture Anthony used to illustrate this column? I am affiliated with a university, so I got full copies of the referenced article and its “supplementary information.” The SI contains the text “Supplementary figures:” followed immediately by a figure caption, which clearly applies to Anthony’s picture, but there is no picture in the PDF! There is also no citation for a source. I’m guessing the authors “borrowed” the image from someone who objected to their use of it.

    Note to Mark Luedtke: The diagram shows bundles of magnetic field lines exiting to the upper left and lower right of the diagram, along which current can flow. This is the clearest evidence I have seen in a refereed journal article for galactic electric linkage to the sun. It would be nice to track down the 3D original of this figure and see where those bundles are headed, in galactic coordinates.

  29. anengineer says:

    Maus,

    All scientific theories are a kind of model. So models are testable just like any other scientific theory, by making predictions based on the model that disagree with other competing models, and go looking for them.

    The problem with the AGW crowd is not that they are using models, it is that they will not allow others to test them or propose alternatives. Which is not how science is supposed to work.

  30. Justthinkin says:

    Just a thought. Has anybody tried modelling the earth or the sun using lego?

  31. Brian H says:

    Justthinkin
    If Lego models of the Earth and Sun are what passes for thought for you, try another activity. It is sure to be more productive, no matter what it is.
    ;p

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