Researchers Create Model To Simulate Solar Flares

Coronal mass ejections during solar flares can wreak havoc on communications on Earth; accurate predictions could help to lessen this effect.

AsianScientist (Mar. 18, 2016) – Japanese researchers have developed a simulation code for coronal mass ejections (CMEs)—magnetic flux, or giant clouds of solar plasma and magnetic lines, that are blown away from the sun during solar flares. The article was published in Space Weather.

Magnetic storms arising from CMEs pose radiation hazards that can damage satellites and that can negatively impact communications systems and electricity on Earth. Thus, accurate predictions of such events are invaluable in space weather forecasting. The new model represents a significant step in space weather research.

“Our model is able to simulate complex ‘flux ropes,’ taking into account the mechanisms behind CME generation derived from real-time solar observations. With this model, we can simulate multiple CMEs propagating through space,” explains lead author, Assistant Professor Daikou Shiota from the Nagoya University Institute of Space and Earth Environmental Research.

“The inclusion of the flux rope mechanism helps us predict the amplitude of the magnetic field within a CME that reaches the Earth’s position, and accurately predicts its arrival time,” Shiota says.

A series of CMEs occurring in October 2003 released large flares of magnetic energy that reached the Earth several days later, causing radio blackouts and satellite communications failures. Data from these events were used to validate the approach taken in the new model.

“Because our model does not simulate the solar coronal region, its computational speed is fast enough to operate under real-time forecasting conditions. This has various applications in ensemble space weather forecasting, radiation belt forecasting, and for further study of the effects of CME-generated solar winds on the larger magnetic structure of our solar system,” Shiota said.

This is a new generation of a well-developed complex flux rope within a CME model, and it provides a valuable step towards enhanced operational space weather forecasting. These findings will significantly contribute to accurately predicting magnetic fields in space and enhancing our understanding of the mechanisms behind CME events.

The article can be found at: Shiota et al. (2016) Magnetohydrodynamic Simulation of Interplanetary Propagation of Multiple Coronal Mass Ejections with Internal Magnetic Flux Rope (SUSANOO-CME).


Source: Nagoya University; Photo: Blatant Views/Flickr/CC.
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