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Solar Eruptive Phenomena

#3264


Study of Solar Eruptive Phenomena, their Influence on Space Weather and Methods of Prediction

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-EHS/Environmental Health and Safety/Environment
  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences
  • PHY-PLS/Plasma Physics/Physics
  • SAT-AST/Astronomy/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation
  • SAT-SAF/Space Safety/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
21.04.2005

Leading Institute
IZMIRAN, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk

Collaborators

  • NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center, USA, MD, Greenbelt\nMax-Plank-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Germany, Katienburg-Lindau\nUniversity of Oslo / Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, Norway, Oslo\nObservatoire de Paris, France, Meudon\nUniversity of New Hampshire / Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, USA, NH, Durham

Project summary

The principal goal of the project is developing methods to forecast space weather disturbances caused by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), including development of a technique which allows to identify the regions on the Sun where CMEs originate and estimation of the probability of the onset of an eruptive process and concrete geophysical disturbances determined by the solar eruptive processes.

Project Objectives:

  • to obtain new data on the structure of the solar magnetic field and criteria of flux rope stability in the coronal magnetic field;
  • to develop new methods for calculation of the potential magnetic field in the corona near filaments (prominences);
  • to analyze observational data on quiescent prominence height variations during the solar activity cycle;
  • to develop a technique of extracting determinate disturbances of the geophysical parameters directly associated with particular eruptive processes on the Sun from numerous data obtained with groundbased instrumentation and aboard spacecrafts;
  • to study the processes of the solar charged particle energy dissipation in Earth's atmosphere and in spacecraft components as well as causal association of failures in space system operation with eruptive processes on the Sun;
  • to explore the response of physical parameters of the upper and middle atmosphere (temperature, intensity of nightglow) on CMEs in different periods of the solar activity.

Project Narrative

The totality of factors determining the electromagnetic conditions and radiation situation in the vicinity of Earth are named as space weather. Space weather influences Earth in a variety of fashions. Its action manifests itself in generation of dangerous induction electric currents in long transmission and communication lines as well as in transcontinental pipelines, results in superposition of radio, television and telephone signals, puts out of action electronic systems of satellites, affects biological systems including human health. The Sun serves as a "kitchen" of space weather. It produces two basic types of the disturbances, which determine the geophysical situation: high-speed streams of solar wind connected with coronal holes, and magnetic clouds created by coronal mass ejections. The coronal holes are steady structures existing as long as several solar rotation periods and registering with confidence with groundbased and spaceborn telescopes. The forecast of the disturbances created by them has no principal difficulties.

At the beginning of the 1990s it was found out that the strongest disturbances of space weather are associated with huge ejections of matter from the solar corona, which, when moving from the Sun, take the form of the closed plasma formations with peculiar structure of the magnetic field named magnetic clouds. It is the collisions of the magnetic clouds with Earth's magnetosphere that lead to strong, sometimes to catastrophic, changes in space weather. The onset of a coronal mass ejection is sudden and no reliable forerunners of СМЕs have been found till now. If CME is fixed in the field of view of a coronagraph, 2-4 days later a magnetic cloud might reach Earth. This is the maximum time interval for the space weather forecast to be more or less reliable. In order to increase this time we must be able to foresee a chance of the onset of a coronal mass ejection on the Sun.

Successful realization of the proposed project will enable us to increase the duration of the period covered by the scientifically based forecast of especially dangerous disturbances of space weather to about two weeks.

We will proceed from the point that the most probable initial magnetic configuration of a CME is a flux rope consisting of twisted field lines while prominences and filaments are the best tracers of the flux ropes in the corona long before the beginning of eruption. Thus, the problem of the CME prediction reduces to the analysis of the filament equilibrium and estimation of the stability store.

The authors of the project were the first to find good indicators that enabled to determine the readiness of solar filaments for eruption. In contrast to some theoretical criteria, which eluded checking in observations, all necessary parameters in our model could be obtained on the base of usual routine observations of the Sun.

At the present time, most of techniques used for forecasting of geophysical situation (space weather) are based on statistical and empirical rules and partly on modeling. In the project under discussion, we plan to examine the specific physical mechanism of the onset of activity on the Sun leading to СМЕs. Thus, a new additional tool of forecasting will appear, which could be integrated into the general procedure of the space weather forecast.

The proposed project is directed towards the development of the methods of prediction of space weather disturbances caused by coronal mass ejections on the Sun, including development of a technique of early location of the regions on the Sun that could generate CMEs, estimation of probability of the eruptive processes and the following development of the particular geophysical disturbances associated with the eruptive phenomena on the Sun.

Within the framework of the project, we are planning to investigate in details the evolution of eruptive prominences from the beginning of their movement up to formation of CMEs. Data obtained by space observatories SOHO, CORONAS-F, TRACE etc. will be used for this purpose as well as data from groundbased observatories.

As the geophysical situation stands in tight link with a complex of numerous space factors, a search of specific responses to particular disturbing processes is an important and urgent goal in space weather forecasting. For this purpose within the framework of the project, it is supposed to develop a technique of extracting determinate disturbances of the geophysical parameters directly associated with particular eruptive processes on the Sun from numerous data obtained with groundbased and spaceborne instrumentation: ionospheric disturbances, variations of a magnetic field, flows of cosmic rays and etc.

An important line of applied investigation will be a search of possible association of failures of space engineering operation with the disturbances created by eruptive processes on the Sun on the basis of the analysis of existing now rather vast database on failures of the satellite's electronic systems that have not been identified with any technical reasons or geophysical processes.

The basic result of the execution of the project should be a new fundamental knowledge of:

  • the nature of solar activity phenomena,
  • the magnetic structure of filaments and prominences,
  • the reasons of the occurrence of the eruptive phenomena and signs of approaching to their onset.

The results can be used in the system of prediction of solar-geophysical situation in the near space (space weather).

Well-known scientists from Germany, France, and USA experienced in observation of the Sun, development of theoretical models of the activity phenomena, data interpretation, and realization of large international scientific programs take part in the project as foreign collaborators. The authors had repeatedly fruitful discussions with them, which led to new ideas and joint publications. During the execution of the project we plan to use some observational data obtained by our collaborators and results of their theoretical studies, to discuss with them arising problems in detail, to exchange the scientific information.

For carrying-out research connected to the analysis of long-period rows of geophysical data and analysis of processes of solar particles energy dissipation, some experts of Institute of Physics of the Atmosphere Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Applied Geophysics, and Lebedev Physical Institute Russian Academy of Science, having wide experience in realization of planned works are included in the project staff.

The staff of the project participants and their qualification correspond to the tasks of the project and the volume of prospective activity and allow to conclude that this project directed on solving of the important fundamental scientific and applied problems will be executed at a high scientific level.

Correspondence of Project to ISTC's objectives.

The performance of the project will allow to support the research and development of technology and methodology in the field of forecasting the influence of solar activity processes on geophysical situation and their influence on biological and technological spheres.

The proposed project corresponds to the purposes of ISTC. As a result of the project realization, some group of experts would be reoriented to civil scientific research and applied development in the field of forecasting the geophysical disturbances associated with the processes of solar activity and would be involved in the international cooperation in this important field.

The developed complex of techniques could be widely used in further in national and international projects.


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