A dramatic explosion on the sun reveals new clues to the causes of these powerful and unpredictable eruptions, according to a new study released this week.
Plus, uncovering the mystery could help scientists better predict the flares that cause dangerous space weather here on Earth.
The explosion, which occurred in March 2016, contained elements of three different types of solar flares that usually occur separately – making it the first time that such an event has been reported, said the NASA in a press release.
“This event is a ‘missing link’ where we can see all of these aspects of different types of eruptions in a neat little package,” said Emily Mason, lead author of the new study and solar scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center. The NASA. “This makes it clear that these rashes are caused by the same mechanism, but on different scales.”
According to NASA, solar flares typically present in one of three forms: coronal mass ejection, jet, or partial flare. Coronal mass ejections and jets are both explosive eruptions that project energy and particles into space, but they are very different.
As the jets erupt as narrow columns of solar matter, coronal mass ejections form huge bubbles that expand, push, and sculpt by the sun’s magnetic fields.
Partial flares, on the other hand, start to come out of the surface but don’t evoke enough energy to leave the sun, so most material falls back to the solar surface.
In the 2016 explosion, all three types of eruptions occurred during the same event.
This is why scientists refer to the event as the eruption of the “Rosetta Stone”, which refers to the Rosetta Stone, an artifact with writing in hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian demotic and ancient Greek, which has finally helped researchers decipher ancient hieroglyphics, according to Space .com.
After:Return to ‘greenhouse’: NASA announces two upcoming missions to study planet Venus
“This is important to us here on Earth, in particular, because coronal mass ejections release large amounts of charged particles and can interfere with power grids on Earth and even create danger to astronauts and space technology,” Space.com said.
By modeling the 2016 eruption and other findings since, scientists hope to be able to understand which root mechanism causes solar flares and determine their characteristics. Finding a trigger could ultimately allow scientists to predict when a large eruption could threaten Earth and Mars several hours in advance – leaving enough time for astronauts and spacecraft operators to take precautionary measures, the report reported. NASA.
The new study was presented on June 7, 2021 by Mason at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society and has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.