Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Method Makes Space Weather Easier to Predict

02.03.2015

Scientists can now gain a better understanding of space weather – the dreaded solar winds and flares – thanks to the development of high spatial resolution observation and computing methods. For the first time, it will thus be possible to study the interrelated events that occur on the sun and trigger solar activity.

To this effect, a current project funded by the FWF is in the process of developing new methods that can generate three-dimensional images and will allow scientists to study the chronological sequence and evolution of processes taking place in the sun’s interior. These new methods will make it possible to link detailed observational data about the sun with complex computer simulations of solar activity.


In a current project by the Austrian Science Fund FWF scientists are developing new methods that can generate three-dimensional images and will allow them to study the chronological sequence and evolution of processes taking place in the sun's interior.

© Institut für Physik, Universität Graz

The sun’s surface is turbulent and constantly in motion: Dynamo effects create magnetic fields which, together with currents, travel outward towards the sun’s surface, thereby determining the sun’s activity. The solar activity in turn influences how much radiation reaches the earth. Long-term variations of this activity can also affect the earth’s climate.

A Flood of Data About Solar Wind

The team headed by project leader Prof. Arnold Hanslmeier is particularly interested in what are known as solar magnetic flux tubes. These flux tubes were discovered only a few years ago and are a precursor of solar flares. Prof. Hanslmeier explains: "It is believed that flux tubes form underneath the sun’s surface a few days before a solar flare erupts. Yet the forces that generate these flux tubes remain largely unknown." The team is also interested in the heating mechanisms that occur on the sun’s surface and directly affect the sun’s lower atmosphere.

The methods being developed by Prof. Hanslmeier will make it possible to link data gained from high-resolution telescopic images with data generated by complex computer simulations. The conventional computation methods that are currently available are actually lagging behind the rapid development of solar telescopes and computer power, as the project leader explains: "New high-resolution solar telescopes generate such vast amounts of data that it is impossible to analyse all of the data individually. That requires automated processes – which is exactly what we are now developing. These processes will allow us to achieve unimaginable temporal and spatial resolution when computing solar dynamics. We are particularly excited about the upcoming opportunity to work with Europe’s largest solar telescope on the Canary Islands."

Segmented & Computed

More specifically, the aim of the project is to develop 2D and 3D algorithms that can calculate extremely small segments of solar magnetic flux tubes using imaging- and simulation data. This research is complemented by comparable segmentations of convective upward and downward flows of the sun’s hot plasma. Prof. Hanslmeier explains the purpose of these calculations: "Segmentation allows us to represent the solar magnetic flux tubes and convection currents as three-dimensional images. At the same time, we can observe how this three-dimensional representation evolves over time. This gives us an essential link between actual observations and theoretical simulations." For the team headed by Prof. Hanslmeier, this link is the key to gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the formation of flux tubes and subsequently cause these flux tubes to develop into solar flares.

The findings of this FWF-funded project will therefore be a vital tool for scientists to not only better understand the intensity of solar flares and solar winds, but to also detect this solar activity sooner and take the necessary precautions. In light of the threat that strong solar winds can pose for essential electric infrastructure in space and here on earth, the significance of these findings will go far beyond fundamental scientific insight.

Scientific Contact:
Prof. Arnold Hanslmeier
University of Graz
Institute of Physics
Universitätsplatz 5
8010 Graz, Austria
+43 / 316 / 380 - 5275
arnold.hanslmeier(at)uni-graz.at

Austrian Science Fund FWF
Marc Seumenicht
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111

Copy Editing & Distribution
PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
+43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44
contact(at)prd.at
www.prd.at

Dr. Katharina Schnell | PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
Further information:
http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/research-in-practice/project-presentations/2015/pv2015-kw10/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems
08.12.2016 | Nagoya Institute of Technology

nachricht Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

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:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

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...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

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,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>