NASA reported on Wednesday that Orbital Sciences Corp., a commercial spaceflight company on a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station, had called off its rocket launch that day from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia because of the unusually high levels of radiation.
"This was a huge event, with the CME now classified as an R-type for its rarity, with an estimated speed much higher than we have recently seen because of the massive release of energy," commented Andrew Gerrard, an NJIT professor of physics and deputy director of the university's Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research.
"Eruptions of this magnitude can cause circulation changes in the upper atmosphere, communications disruptions in space and on the ground, and other potential electrical anomalies. We can lose track of space craft, whose orbits can be disrupted by these in these events. It's like driving through molasses."
NJIT is continuing to measure the solar explosion's impact from space with its instruments on the Van Allen Probes, NASA space craft that travel through the inner magnetosphere, and on the ground through instruments like those in the NATION Fabry-Perot systems in North America, which measure thermospheric winds and temperatures, and in systems across the Antarctic plateau that measure geomagnetic variability.
"This is a beautiful opportunity to look at how this material from the sun is injected into the radiation belts, inner magnetosphere, and upper atmosphere," Gerrard said. "We may not see anything like this for another decade."
NJIT's Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research also operates the university's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) in California, which is home to the world's most powerful ground-based telescope dedicated to solar research. NJIT professors at BBSO in Big Bear have obtained new and remarkably detailed photos of the Sun with the New Solar Telescope (NST).
The flare, a giant burst of radiation designated as X-class for the most intense flares, is centered over a giant sunspot AR1944 located at the center of the sun. By Wednesday, the solar radiation storm had intensified to an S3 or strong event, while the coronal mass ejection was forecast to set off G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity through January 9 and 10, NASA said.
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections regularly send bursts of charged particles and high energy radiation in Earth's direction at nearly the speed of light. Upon reaching our atmosphere within minutes, solar radiation can destroy the electronic systems in satellites used in telecommunications, weather forecasting and GPS systems, among other services, as well as devices on the ground, such as transformers.
In 1989, for example, a solar storm brought down the Hydro-Quebec grid within minutes, blacking out the entire province as well as parts of the Northern United States for several hours.
For further information about the solar event and its terrestrial impacts, please contact Andrew Gerrard at 732-357-5230 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls 10,000 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs.
The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2011 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning.
Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Division of Continuing Professional Education.
Andrew Gerrard | EurekAlert!
Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
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