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Space Weather: Indian scientists study ’13 solar flare, unravel key factors influencing space weather

Space Weather: Indian scientists study ’13 solar flare, unravel key factors influencing space weather

BENGALURU: In a groundbreaking study, scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) have unravelled the mysteries surrounding a solar burst that occurred on the west limb of the Sun in 2013.
Using an array of ground-based optical and radio telescopes, as well as data from Nasa’s space-based satellites, researchers from IIA — an autonomous institute operating under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) — traced the source of the eruption, offering insights into the characteristics that drive space weather.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where the Sun expels plasma and magnetic fields, are linked to solar features like filaments or prominences. Understanding the triggering mechanisms of these events is crucial for predicting their impact on space weather and potential threats to satellites and communication networks.
The study focused on a unique prominence eruption (PE) associated with a slow CME that occurred on December 4, 2013. Unlike typical cases of strong CMEs, an imbalance of magnetic forces triggered this particular prominence eruption, leading to a slower CME propagation, DST said.
P Vemareddy, the first author of the paper and an IIA faculty member, explained: “Unlike other cases of strong CMEs, an imbalance of the magnetic forces triggered this prominence eruption.” The scientists also noted a weak solar flare and type III radio bursts, unusual for such events.
The research, DST said, highlighted the importance of studying CMEs, both geoeffective and non-geoeffective, to make significant progress in predicting their paths through interplanetary space. The prominence eruption was found to be located in a region with weak magnetic polarities, indicating that even a small magnetic field imbalance could contribute to magnetic reconnection.
“Magnetic reconnection, a process where complex magnetic field lines rearrange, plays a crucial role in the eruption of a fast CME. The study emphasised its impact on the speed of CMEs, the launch of radio bursts, and the distance of CME propagation from the Sun,” DST added.
The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), underscore the importance of simultaneous multiwavelength observations from various vantage points to unravel the origin of CMEs from the Sun.
Vemareddy pointed out: “Imaging observations close to the Sun are the key to determining the speed of the CME, which the space payload Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) aboard the solar space observatory Aditya-L1 is going to provide soon.”

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