The secret behind stealthy solar storms finally revealed!
While most massive solar storms are often preceded by some kind of warning, sometimes mysterious slower-moving ‘stealth’ storms appear seemingly out of nowhere, leaving scientists baffled. Now, an international team of scientists, led by the Space Sciences Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley, and funded in part by NASA, has developed a model that simulates the evolution of these stealthy solar storms.
A paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research summarizes this work. The scientists relied upon NASA missions STEREO and SOHO for this work, fine-tuning their model until the simulations matched the space-based observations. Their work shows how a slow, quiet process can unexpectedly create a twisted mass of magnetic fields on the sun, which then pinches off and speeds out into space — all without any advance warning.
Compared to typical CMEs, which erupt from the sun as fast as 1800 miles per second, stealth CMEs move at a rambling gait — between 250 to 435 miles per second. That’s roughly the speed of the more common solar wind, the constant stream of charged particles that flows from the sun. At that speed, stealth CMEs aren’t typically powerful enough to drive major space weather events, but because of their …read more