Citizen scientists have contributed to a significant discovery, revealing that solar storms tend to become more powerful as the 11-year solar cycle approaches the end. The new data could allow forecasters to anticipate space weather event that could be harmful to Earth before they take place.
The project, which began back in May 2018, asked willing volunteers to look at images featuring pairs of Coronal Mass Ejections (also known as CMEs) and pick the one which appeared to be more complicated from a visual point of view.
Over 1100 observations of CMEs, which were recorded with the help of the Heliospheric Imagers mounted on NASA’s twin Stereo spacecraft, were evaluated in this manner. The Stereo spacecraft transmit images of CMEs which take place on the sun. Some of them appear to be simple, while others are more complicated. The researchers were quite surprised when they observed that the complexity tends to ramp up on par with the solar activity cycle.
Solar storms might become more complex as the Sun’s 11-year cycle get closer to its end
CMEs may be fascinating to watch, but they pose a real threat to the contemporary lifestyle. Intense solar storms which target Earth can wreak severe damage by compromising major electricity grids, the functionality of GPS satellites and communication networks.
By using the current prediction techniques, which focus on the observation of the magnetic fields during solar storms, have limited usability of approximately an hour before the wind will reach our planet. Looking at the complexity of an eruption may allow researchers to deliver a warning in advance and anticipate the scale of the disruption.
The connection between the Sun’s cycle and the complexity of the solar storms plays an essential role since the orientation of the magnetic field determines the amount of potential damage which can be done. The magnetic field of intricate solar storms tends to change its direction regularly as they travel. Further research is already underway as a new stage will begin soon. The current data will be presented at several astronomy conferences.
Karen and her husband live on a plot of land in British Columbia. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. They are also currently planning a move to a small cabin they hand built. Karen’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Thus sprung Anna’s interest in backyard gardening, chicken and goat keeping, recycling and self-sufficiency.