NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory makes a stunning portrayal of the Sun’s magnetic field

From the cool stuff department and NASA Goddard, comes this.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) scientists used their computer models to generate a view of the Sun’s magnetic field on August 10 17, 2018. As seen above.

About one year ago the magnetic looked like this, captured on 8/26/17:

The bright active region right at the central area of the Sun clearly shows a concentration of field lines, as well as the small active region at the Sun’s right edge, but to a lesser extent. Magnetism drives the dynamic activity near the Sun’s surface.

SDO is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Its Atmosphere Imaging Assembly was built by the Lockheed Martin Solar Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL), Palo Alto, California.

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Solar Dynamics Observatory


Note: the original press release from NASA Goddard contained an error, identifying an image taken on 8/26/2017 as being on 8/10/2018. Dr. Leif Svalgaard spotted the error and left a comment, and I’ve edited the post to include both the current image as well as the image originally supplied by NASA in the press release. – Anthony

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August 17, 2018 11:37 am

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) scientists used their computer models to generate a view of the Sun’s magnetic field on August 10, 2018

Except that the image is from 2017/8/26.

Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 17, 2018 11:41 am

The time is shown in the lower left corner…

Mike Macray
Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 17, 2018 12:12 pm

This year, last year… its still a great picture!
Thanks Anthony

MarkW
Reply to  Mike Macray
August 17, 2018 1:05 pm

I wonder if a picture from this year would be substantially different?

EDIT: And Leif shall provide:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/08/17/data-nasas-solar-dynamics-observatory-makes-a-stunning-portrayal-of-the-suns-magnetic-field/#comment-2431952

commieBob
Reply to  Anthony Watts
August 17, 2018 12:17 pm

The dread PR flack strikes again. Any relationship between what they write and the truth is strictly coincidental.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 11:40 am
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 11:51 am

You can clearly see the ‘arcade’ of field lines stretching across the solar surface. At this point [near minimum] in the solar cycle these arcades [overlying solar sector boundaries] are mostly East-West oriented. Way back in 1974 we first did that kind of modeling and the arcades for a time at a solar maximum in 1969 were North-South. All related to the warp or inclination of the Heliospheric Current Sheet:
http://www.leif.org/research/Coronal%20Structure%20at%20Sector%20Boundary.pdf

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 12:22 pm

Leif, is there a source where I can get a “primer” on interpreting Sam Freeland’s solarsoft current events page? http://www.lmsal.com/solarsoft/latest_events/
I understand some of it but wish I had a guide to it.
Is the heliospheric current sheet represented in the bottom graph?

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 17, 2018 12:25 pm

The bottom graph shows the field line structure. The one just above it, the open field regions [leading to the HCS]
http://www.lmsal.com/solarsoft/latest_events/

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 12:31 pm

Thanks, now it fits together, so to speak.

Carla
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 8:56 pm

Thanks Dr. S.
Overlying ‘solar sector boundaries,’ interesting.
During solar minimum this CH could be around for 2 years, Spaceweather.com reports and links to a study. Is the current pictured CH positive or negative. (until today I didn’t know that they even had a polarity lol)

Sorry for the length Anthony, but this was too good of a primer for the new minimum.

“”Coronal holes are a primary form of space weather during solar minimum–that is, now. Studies show that coronal holes not only open more frequently, but also last longer when sunspots are absent. During the last solar minimum in 2007-2009, one coronal hole stayed open for 27 consecutive solar rotations. As the sun slowly turned on its axis, that hole fire-hosed Earth with a stream of solar wind almost once a month for nearly two years. For comparison, this coronal hole has only been around twice. It is a youngster.””

Low-Latitude Coronal Holes at the Minimum of the 23rd Solar
Cycle 2.8.2010
Low and mid-latitude coronal holes (CHs) observed on the Sun during the
current solar activity minimum (from September 21, 2006, Carrington rotation
(CR) 2048, until June 26, 2009 (CR 2084)) were analyzed using SOHO/EIT and
STEREO-A SECCHI EUVI data. From both the observations and Potential
Field Source Surface (PFSS) modeling, we find that the area occupied by CHs
inside a belt of ±40◦ around the solar equator is larger in the current 2007 solar
minimum relative to the similar phase of the previous 1996 solar minimum. The
enhanced CH area is related to a recurrent appearance of five persistent CHs,
which survived during 7-27 solar rotations. Three of the CHs are of positive
magnetic polarity and two are negative. The most long-lived CH was being
formed during 2 days and existed for 27 rotations. This CH was associated
with fast solar wind at 1 AU of approximately 620±40 km s−1. The 3D MHD
modeling for this time period shows an open field structure above this CH.
We conclude that the global magnetic field of the Sun possessed a multi-pole
structure during this time period. Calculation of the harmonic power spectrum
of the solar magnetic field demonstrates a greater prevalence of multi-pole
components over the dipole component in the 2007 solar minimum compared
to the 1996 solar minimum. The unusual large separation between the dipole
and multi-pole components is due to the very low magnitude of the dipole
component, which is three times lower than that in the previous 1996 solar
minimum.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1806.02806.pdf

Pondering the draping of the Interstellar Magnetic Field over the Heliosphere’s polar region and the flows of TeV Galactic Cosmic Rays. (and some other lower but high eV GCR that are not swept away.)

Reply to  Carla
August 17, 2018 9:11 pm

Is the current pictured CH positive or negative. (until today I didn’t know that they even had a polarity lol)
Negative, of course. It is on its way to the negative south pole.

The rest of your comment is irrelevant. At least, I can’t see why it was made. What is your point?
The interstellar magnetic field is irrelevant because [as you have been told a gazillion times[ the solar wind is supersonic.

Carla
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 18, 2018 8:29 am

Point:
Great image depicting configuration of solar magnetic field lines during the beginning of the solar minimum phase and the absence of the same field lines in coronal holes.
Article describes past solar minimum, longevity of coronal holes and a weak polar fields by comparison to past minimums.

“”The unusual large separation between the dipole and multi-pole components is due to the very low magnitude of the dipole component, which is three times lower than that in the previous 1996 solar minimum””

Weak solar polar fields affect GCR flowing through the solar system. Interstellar Magnetic Fields ‘wrap’ around the system.
All energy levels of GCR gyrate around Interstellar Magnetic Fields.
Lower solar polar fields and activity, more Interstellar Magnetic Field wrapping, more GCRs enter system.
Higher level GCR less data and known effects at boundary and inside system.
Last solar minimum saw “space age record” record high GCR.
May be seeing Interstellar wind direction coming from edge of Loop I super bubble and its high energy particles.
Varying levels of Interstellar Magnetic Field strength.

Have a good day Dr. S. and thanks for the reply.
Negative CH because it is on its way to the South solar pole.
Ok, my sticky point.
“””(three times lower than that in the 1996
solar minimum) magnitude of the dipole component.”””

Reply to  Carla
August 18, 2018 9:04 am

three times lower than that in the 1996 solar minimum) magnitude of the dipole component.
No. In 1996 the dipole was about 200 uT, in 2008 about 110 uT, and now about 130 uT.

Carla
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 18, 2018 9:47 am

Comparing apples to apples sometimes needs clarification.

Page 7
“”We used the harmonic coefficients calculated at the
Wilcox Solar Observatory (http : //wso.stanford.edu/forms/prgs.html) for CRs 2045 –2085 to examine the dipole and multi-pole components during the 1996 and 2007 minima
(Figure 5). From these plots, the difference between the dipole and multi-pole components is larger during the 2007 solar minimum as compared to the similar phase of the 1996 solar minimum and it may be chiefly attributed to weakening of the dipole component during
the 2007 solar minimum. In particular, when comparing data for CRs 1900 – 1909 and CRs 2048-2057 (similar solar cycle phase), one can see that the dipole component decreased nearly threefold, whereas the sum of all multi-poles decreased only by about 30%. It is also
interesting that there is a slight decline in both dipole and multi-pole components during the 2007 solar minimum, which was not the case for the preceding 1996 solar minimum.””
Figure 5 is located on page 8.
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1002.1685.pdf

For fun Edit, like something sitting on the beach ball (heliosphere) compressing its field.
For fun Edit 2, Interstellar Fields pile up for around 50 years and then…uh hmm.

Off topic…
Article below puts the solar system inside the rim of the Loop I super bubble. Rims, wonder with what periodicity the solar system hits rims. 100 year periodicity could be fun.

Effect of Supernovae on the Local Interstellar
Material 18 Jan. 2018
Priscilla Frisch and Vikram V. Dwarkadas
“””This review discusses the configuration of massive stars in Gould’s Belt that spawn nearby supernovae (Section 2), bubble formation (Section 3.1), the location of the Sun inside a superbubble rim (Section 3.4) that merges into the low density Local Bubble cavity (Section 3.3), the Orion superbubble (Section 3.6), short-lived radioisotope clocks of recent nearby supernova found in geological and astrophysical
data (Section 4), and the impact of supernovae on the heliosphere (Section 5).”””
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1801.06223.pdf

Have a good day. Someone has to get some work done today.

Reply to  Carla
August 18, 2018 10:32 am

like something sitting on the beach ball (heliosphere) compressing its field.
Because the solar wind is supersonic, nothing outside of the heliosphere can influence the sun’s magnetic field. As usual, your comment is irrelevant.

u.k.(us)
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 18, 2018 1:26 pm

Supersonic…. in the void of space ?

Reply to  u.k.(us)
August 18, 2018 1:31 pm

Yes. Influences in the solar wind are mediated by its magnetic field. In a plasma, the magnetic field changes propagates with the so-called Alfven Speed [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfv%C3%A9n_wave]. The solar wind plasma moves away from the sun at about 10 times the Alfven speed [near the Earth], which is 10 times faster than a magnetic perturbation could move upstream towards the Sun.

Carla
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 18, 2018 4:45 pm

Not totally irrelevant Dr. S.
The studies of Interstellar space surrounding the heliosphere are extremely important.
Perhaps, during this solar minimum period, the Voyager 2, will just be ‘shrunk’ out of the heliopshere. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? toot toot

Reply to  Carla
August 18, 2018 5:54 pm

It is important for the study of the outer heliosphere and the interstellar medium, but is totally irrelevant for the study of solar activity and magnetism. As you have been told so many times.

R Hall
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 18, 2018 9:39 am

Fascinating; thank you Dr. Svalgaard.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 12:12 pm

Thanks Leif, That was my first thought- “that’s not today, is it?”
Too bad LMSAL doesn’t have https so your posted image would show.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 17, 2018 12:18 pm

too bad that https is required by WordPress…

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 17, 2018 12:33 pm

Thanks to Anthony for correcting the headpost image.

Onehalfmvsquared
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 2:03 pm

Very cool image, thanks! I set it as my wallpaper for my iPad.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 12:11 pm

I was hoping you’d chime in Dr. Svalgaard. It must be an exciting time to be a Solar Scientist. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the Parker probe mission.

Reply to  TomB
August 17, 2018 12:17 pm

Would be a long story. One thing is certain: we shall learn a lot. And lots of time top comment as we go along the next several years.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 12:13 pm

Translating from English
“NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) scientists used their computer models to generate a view of the Sun’s magnetic field on August 10, 2018.”
to an obscure Balkan dialect and back to English:
“NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) scientists used their computer models on August 10, 2018 to generate a view of the Sun’s magnetic field.”/sc

Reply to  vukcevic
August 17, 2018 12:20 pm

the SDO website generates such a view every few hours:
http://suntoday.lmsal.com/suntoday/?suntoday_date=2018-08-17

Philip T. Downman
August 17, 2018 11:57 am

Two different pictures of the magnetic field. About one year between. To my eye todays picture looks a little more diffuse. Guess it should be near a sunspot minimum? How do experts interpret it?

Reply to  Philip T. Downman
August 17, 2018 12:00 pm

See my comment on August 17, 2018 11:51 am

HenryP
August 17, 2018 12:10 pm

Yes.
We are back with the sun to where we were 43 years ago. Amazing that I do remember where I was that time. Quite exactly.

Reply to  HenryP
August 17, 2018 12:16 pm

The solar magnetic field images back then, now, and every time in between shows the same general features. Nothing special about 43 years ago. Except, perhaps, that we knew already back then what the features were.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 17, 2018 1:06 pm

What was written in 1975 gives an interesting retrospective:
“The central fact is that, after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”
“….But they are almost unanimous in the view….”, 97% consensus opinion you might say.
Read more:
https://www.scribd.com/doc/225798861/Newsweek-s-Global-Cooling-Article-From-April-28-1975
How wrong they were then, and how wrong they are now.
I remember it well, New Scientist and Scientific American were at it too. I never took it seriously then, and I don’t take seriously current nonsense of the impending global doomsday.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  HenryP
August 17, 2018 12:27 pm

Nixon had just resigned.
Correction. 43 years ago was 1975. My bad. Nixon resigned in ’74.

Joel O'Bryan
August 17, 2018 12:33 pm

This kind of stuff and the solar wind environment were what NASA/GISS was originally meant to study. Sadly James Hanson realized there was more career and fame to be made as a climate carnival barker.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 17, 2018 4:07 pm

Hanson got some motivation from a certain politician/snake oil salesman with a degree in divinity, no?

Bob Weber
August 17, 2018 1:11 pm

Top image is from the post. Bottom “app” image is from 30 minutes ago. The upper middle chart is the USAF 45day F10.7cm and Ap daily forecast from yesterday, which is expecting Ap to go up to 15 from the center facing coronal hole. The recent cross polar cap potential activity from the past three days solar wind activity is in the second middle chart. The resulting 3 days of geomagnetic Kp index is in the third chart on the right, showing geomagnetic activity induced by the solar wind CPCP interaction.

comment image

Some of the science discoveries underpinning the data shown were by Leif Svalgaard (& co).

ren
August 17, 2018 1:21 pm

In three days there will be a geomagnetic storm.
http://www.solen.info/solar/images/AR_CH_20180816_hres.png

August 17, 2018 1:41 pm

Another article on magnetic field (this time galactic) published today:
https://phys.org/news/2018-08-magnetized-inflow-accreting-center-milky.html#nRlv

BallBounces
August 17, 2018 3:15 pm

The sun? I thought this site dealt with things related to earth’s climate…

sophocles
Reply to  BallBounces
August 17, 2018 6:12 pm

BallBounces said:

The sun? I thought this site dealt with things related to earth’s climate…

Are you suggesting the sun is not a thing related to earth’s climate?

TomRude
Reply to  BallBounces
August 18, 2018 7:40 am

Brilliant… made my day. Love the humour

Pop Piasa
August 17, 2018 4:25 pm

It would be even better if we could image the far side simultaneously and construct a 3D model which could be viewed from any angle. Seems STEREO-A could supply most of the data.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 17, 2018 4:36 pm

We can. The large scale field change so slowly that we can use the data from 14 days ago for the calculation.

Gary Meyers
August 18, 2018 9:14 am

What is up with the sun? Check this out:
http://www.spaceweather.com/images2018/18aug18/hmi1898.gif

Bob Weber
Reply to  Gary Meyers
August 18, 2018 10:24 am

That is one lonely sunspot. It’s the only thing holding back the ‘grand solar minimum’ /sarc

Gary Meyers
Reply to  Bob Weber
August 18, 2018 11:13 am

I was talking about the coloration. The lower right is darker with a definitive dividing line.

Bob Weber
Reply to  Gary Meyers
August 18, 2018 11:47 am

That’s interesting. Could be an image processing issue.

Gary Meyers
Reply to  Bob Weber
August 18, 2018 4:17 pm

I hope so!

Reply to  Gary Meyers
August 18, 2018 5:55 pm

It is…

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
August 25, 2018 1:31 pm

Starting approximately 2018.08.17 04:50UT, HMI images from both cameras began to suffer from an artifact that cannot currently be removed by any of the calibrations that are applied during data processing. Dopplergrams and magnetograms may not be significantly affected, but continuum intensity images show the artifact clearly. The HMI team is working to understand the origin of this issue and to properly correct it in our data products.

KLohrn
Reply to  Gary Meyers
August 19, 2018 11:17 pm

All the other planets are currently lined up on this side of the Sun, must be a eclipse.

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