Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

KU Leuven researchers shed new light on solar flares

19.06.2020

Plasma astrophysicists at KU Leuven have created the first self-consistent simulation of the physical processes that occur during a solar flare. The researchers used Flemish supercomputers and a new combination of physical models.

Solar flares are explosions on the surface of the Sun that release an enormous amount of energy, equivalent to a trillion 'Little Boy' atomic bombs exploding at the same time.


The new model makes it possible to calculate the energy conversion efficiency of a solar flare.

Credit: © KU Leuven - Wenzhi Ruan

In extreme cases, solar flares can disable radio connections and power stations on Earth, but they are also at the basis of stunning space weather phenomena.

The Northern Lights, for instance, are linked to a solar flare that disturbs the magnetic field of the Sun to such an extent that a bubble of solar plasma can escape from the atmosphere of the Sun.

Unique simulation

Thanks to satellites and solar telescopes, we already understand quite a lot about the physical processes that take place during a solar flare. For one thing, we know that solar flares convert energy from magnetic fields into heat, light and motion energy very efficiently.

In science textbooks, these processes are commonly visualised as the standard 2-D solar flare model. The details of this illustration, however, have never been confirmed.

This is because creating a fully consistent simulation is a huge challenge, given that both macroscopic effects (we're talking several tens of thousands of kilometres here: larger than Earth) and microscopic particle physics have to be taken into account.

Researchers at KU Leuven have now been able to create such a simulation. As part of his doctoral research, Wenzhi Ruan worked on the simulation with his colleagues in the team of Professor Rony Keppens at the KU Leuven Department of Plasma Astrophysics.

The researchers used the computational power of Flemish supercomputers as well as a new combination of physical models in which the microscopic effects of accelerated charged particles were taken into account in a macroscopic model.

From textbook illustration to self-consistent model

"Our work also makes it possible to calculate the energy conversion efficiency of a solar flare," Professor Rony Keppens explains. "We can calculate this efficiency by combining the strength of the Sun's magnetic field at the feet of the flare with the speed at which those feet move. If we can complete our observations in time, that is, because everything happens within a time span of tens of seconds to a few minutes."

"We converted the results of the numerical simulation into virtual observations of a solar flare, whereby we imitated telescopes in all relevant wavelengths. This allowed us to upgrade the standard solar flare model from a textbook illustration to an actual model."

Rony Keppens | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://nieuws.kuleuven.be/en/content/2020/ku-leuven-researchers-shed-new-light-on-solar-flares
http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ab93db

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht On-chip spin-Hall nanograting for simultaneously detecting phase and polarization singularities
07.07.2020 | Light Publishing Center, Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics And Physics, Chinese Academy

nachricht 'Growing' active sites on quantum dots for robust H2 photogeneration
07.07.2020 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

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: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quick notes in the genome

07.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Limitations of Super-Resolution Microscopy Overcome

07.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Put into the right light - Reproducible and sustainable coupling reactions

07.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>