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A new way to predict solar flares?

Their work made the cover story of Nature dated October 23. A team of French scientists, led by Tahar Amari from the Center of Theoretical Physics at École Polytechnique, published an article opening the way to forecasting the solar storms impacting Earth.


Typical solar flare. © Tahar Amari / Center of Theoretical Physics, École Polytechnique

This discovery was revealed on October 23 in Nature.

Three French researchers from the Center of Theoretical Physics (CNRS/École Polytechnique) and the Laboratory of Astrophysics, Instrumentation- Modeling (CNRS/CEA/Université Paris Diderot), have identified a key phenomenon in the triggering of solar flares.

The researchers Tahar Amari, Aurélien Canon and Jean-Jacques Aly showed that a characteristic structure, in the form of a magnetic rope, gradually appears in the days preceding the flare and is completely formed just before it occurs. A discovery that could allow scientists to accurately predict solar flares.

Solar flares are events that occur in the Sun's atmosphere. They are characterized by emissions of light and particles and, in the case of large-scale flares, by the ejection of a plasma bubble.

Understanding and predicting solar flares is crucial as they cause multiple disturbances affecting ground-based electrical generators, satellites, GPS and communications systems, to name but a few.

Using satellite data and models, the scientists were able to monitor the evolution of the solar magnetic field in a region with eruptive behavior. Their calculations revealed the formation of a magnetic rope emerging from the inner of the Sun and associated with the appearance of a sunspot.

This scientific work will eventually prove possible to forecast space weather and to prevent the impact of solar storms on Earth.

> Read the press release

> Read the article published in Nature