The sun’s mysterious ‘sparks’ could help scientists predict solar flares

The sun’s mysterious ‘sparks’ could help scientists predict solar flares

Solar flares, powerful bursts of radiation from the sun, often precede preflares, scientists say. The finding could lead to better predictions of solar storms, which can disrupt power grids and communications systems on Earth.

The scientists made the discovery after digging through years of data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite that has been observing the sun since 2010. Since the 1970s and 80s, researchers have observed these pre-glacial flashes, instruments such as ground-based observatories were used, so there was a lot of anecdotal evidence that the flashes and flares were related, KD Leka (opens in a new tab), senior research scientist at Northwest Research Associates (NWRA) in Boulder, Colorado, told Live Science. But those researchers didn’t have instruments like SDO, which is constantly watching and recording the sun’s activity from space.

“Images of [the sun] They are certainly helping scientists and forecasters understand when an active region is likely to be capable of a productive flare,” said Leka.

Two images of an active solar region taken by SDO/AIA show extreme ultraviolet light produced by million-degree-hot coronal gas (top images) the day before the region flared up (left) and the day before it went quiet and didn’t stay quiet . flare (right). The brightness changes (bottom images) at these two times show different patterns, with patches of intense variation (black & white areas) before the flare (bottom left) and mostly gray (indicating low variability) before the flare quiet (bottom right) . (Image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Dissauer et al. 2022)

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