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Current Affairs

CESSI team accurately predicts shape of Sun’s corona

Date: 28 December 2019 Tags: Space

Issue

Solar physicists from the Centre for Excellence in Space Sciences (CESSI), IISER Kolkata, have succeeded in predicting the shape of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona,  at the time of the annular eclipse of December 25.

 

Background

This is the second successful prediction, counting the last solar eclipse that was viewed from South America on July 2 this year. While the earlier prediction was slightly different from the actual image, this time it is pretty close to the real thing, which was imaged by NASA’s spaced-based solar observatory SOHO using the LASCO instrument.

 

Details

  • The Predictive Solar Surface Flux Transport model developed by the CESSI Team can predict the shape of the corona well ahead of any required date.

  • Previous research exploring this prediction method had indicated tha large-scale structure of the Sun’s corona can be predicted up to two months in advance.

  • Space weather consists of the varying conditions within the solar system such as solar wind and is different from weather on earth. It can affect the electronics on board satellites.

  • Scientists had used inputs and made the prediction 43 days ahead of the eclipse. The only way to verify these models was to either have photographs taken during the eclipse that capture the corona or use space- or ground-based instruments that use an artificial disc to occult the Sun’s surface to make the faint corona visible.

  • Since this was an annular eclipse with a ring of bright solar surface visible, the corona was not directly noticeable.

  • The researchers used the images generated by the space-based coronagraph instrument LASCO on board the European Space Agency’s SOHO satellite.

LASCO

The Large Angle and Spectrometric COronagraph (LASCO) instrument is one of 11 instruments included on the joint NASA/ESA SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) spacecraft.

 A coronagraph is a telescope that is designed to block light coming from the solar disk, in order to see the extremely faint emission from the region around the sun, called the corona.

 

SOHO

SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) is a space-based observatory, viewing and investigating the Sun from its deep core, through its outer atmosphere, the corona and the domain of the solar wind, out to a distance ten times beyond the Earth's orbit.