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Solar flare forecasting with high-resolution magnetic movies

Alexander russell

Nationality British

Year of selection 2012

Institution University of Glasgow

Country United Kingdom

Risk Environment

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

undefined year

120000 €

Solar flares are violent explosions on the Sun, associated with intense bursts of x-rays and extreme ultraviolet light, acceleration of subatomic particles to relativistic energies, and ejection of magnetised plasma into the solar system (Fig. 1). All of these phenomena can be detrimental to satellites and terrestrial systems such as power grids, which are increasingly regarded as essential infrastructure. In this context, the development of reliable solar flare forecasting is an important and long-standing goal of solar physics.

The dramatic power of solar flares comes from reconfigurations of the Sun’s complex magnetic field, which store and release energy in critical sites called active regions. Our goal is to develop and test novel flare prediction tools, using movies of the magnetic fields in these critical regions.

The questions we aim to address are:

  • (i) Can we identify properties of the evolving magnetic field that presage a solar flare, focusing on the most critical magnetic locations?
  • (ii) Can we link these properties with the approach towards instability that produces a flare?
  • (iii) Does the picture change if we employ information on the magnetic field direction as well as its strength?
  • (iv) Can what we learn above improve solar flare forecasts?

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