Feeds

Solar simulation right on the money

Expect better space weather forecasts

Build a business case: developing custom apps

California scientists have for the first time created a computer simulation that can accurately model the solar corona, or outer atmosphere of the sun.

The researchers at Science Applications International say the breakthrough should lead to dramatic improvements in the accuracy of space weather forecasts, helping scientists better predict the events on the sun's surface that affect the infrastructure on Earth.

Simulations of the corona's behaviour could give scientists clues about when the sun will produce flares, or coronal mass ejections, the researchers say. These huge ejections of solar plasma have a direct impact on orbiting satellites and land-based power and communications systems.

Simulations and reality

The research team used the model to simulate solar activity during an eclipse period, and produced two sets of simulated photographs of the eclipse before the 29 March event. As the images above show, the actual eclipse matched the predictions very closely, although the fine detail is missing (the left and centre images are the simulations, while the right-most image is an actual photograph of the corona, taken during the eclipse).

Previous simulations of the corona have been based on very simplified models of the corona. This new simulation, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, is rooted in the physics of how energy is transferred in the corona.

It is based on satellite observations of the corona, and the magnetic activity in the sun that shapes it, taken from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This makes the calculations much more time-intensive (it took 700 computer processors four days to produce the simulated images), but far more accurate.

The corona is very faint relative to the main body of the sun. Without specialist equipment, it can only be seen during a total solar eclipse when the moon blocks most of the sun's direct light. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO MURDER SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.