Scientists to predict solar magnetic storms

stormsThe danger of solar winds disrupting mobile phone service, damaging satellites and causing power grids to black out is all too real.

But teams of researchers in the USA are working on creating models that will precisely predict when geomagnetic storms are likely to threaten global communications.

At a forthcoming meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics a number of scientists from different teams will present their findings.

A team at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab will show how magnetic reconnection accelerates solar wind particles of a high energy frenzy and how that affects with the magnetic field that surrounds our planet.

A breakthrough from the US Department of Energy’s plasma physics lab appear to have discovered how massive eruptions of solar plasma turns magnetic energy into explosive particle energy, disrupting communications.

The scientists have measured experimentally the amount of magnetic energy turning into particle energy which can equal the power equivalent of millions of tons of TNT.

* The illustrations clockwise from upper left are: computer simulation of the solar wind in contact with the Earth’s magnetosphere, magnetosphere simulation experiment at Columbia University, computer visualisation of turbulent plasma currents in Swarthmore plasma wind tunnel (experiment at bottom right), magnetic surfaces overlaid on merging plasma with reconnection, and spectrogram showing interaction of magnetic waves in the UCLA Large Plasma Device.