NASA has unveiled a new tool to gather information on solar storms that trigger magnetically structured clouds called coronal mass ejections.
Named as EEGGL – the Eruptive Event Generator (Gibson and Low) – is a new space weather model that can simulate solar storms and deliver information on the path of coronal mass ejections before they hit Earth.
Pronounced "eagle," EEGGL can trace the trajectory of CMEs and has been designed as part of a larger model of the sun's outer atmosphere called corona by a team led by Tamas Gombosi at the Michigan University's Department of Climate Space Engineering.
Types Of Solar Eruptions
Among sun's explosions, solar flares and coronal mass ejections are very prominent.
Generally, in less than 10 minutes, the energy and x-rays of solar flare take to Earth as they travel at the speed of light. However, coronal mass ejections take more time to hit Earth as they are giant clouds of solar material and an average 70 hours will be required to reach Earth.
The CMEs are dreaded for the disturbance it creates for satellites and communication networks. The clouds are massive and carry magnetically and electrically charged particles named plasma, triggering space weather effects.
How Does EEGL Help?
For NASA, EEGGL helps to study the path navigated by a CME through space toward Earth and the magnetic configuration it carries.
"Incorporating the magnetic properties at CME initiation may give scientists a better idea of a CME's magnetic structure and ultimately, how this structure influences the CME's path through space and interaction with Earth's magnetic fields — an important piece to the puzzle of the sun's dynamic behavior," NASA noted.
In guiding a CME's traction through space, EEGL would depend on the latter's plasma properties and magnetic free energy or electromagnetic forces to interpret the path.
What makes EEGL more advanced is the focus on the magnetic structure of the CME right from its start at the sun as a new step in CME modeling.
Though many models have initiated CMEs, their base was kinematic properties taken from spacecraft observations regarding mass and initial velocity.
By focusing more on the magnetic properties of CME initiation, scientists are at an advantage in understanding CMEs' magnetic structure which governs the path through space and its interaction with the magnetic fields of the Earth.
EEGGL provides a composite picture, beginning with spacecraft observations of a CME including the eruption's initial speed and location of the sun with updates on how the CME could travel under the laws of electromagnetics.
Synthetic images already delivered by EEGGL are closely similar to actual observations made by NASA and ESA's SOHO.
Solar Storm Damage
A recent study has said solar storms would wreak havoc in the United States in terms of blackouts across the country and the resulting financial losses will be an average $40 billion a day.
The loss from disruption of power will be about 49 percent of the total potential macroeconomic cost, according to the paper published in Space Weather.