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Forecasting solar activity and the weather in space

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December 27, 2012 in Preparedness


The ability to forecast periods of intense solar activity may be improved after scientists compared cycles of solar magnetic activity (over the past 10,000 years as reconstructed from ice cores) with the action of the planets. The Sun determines the course of the planets, but it has been discovered that the planets may also exert an influence on the Sun. Their configurations appear to be responsible for long-term cycles of increased solar activity.

This discovery is deemed important as our society becomes more dependent on technologies such as satellite communications and navigation systems – as well as power grids – which can be disabled by major solar eruptions. Scientists at Eawag and the ETH Zurich, in collaboration with colleagues from Australia and Spain, are continuing to study the configuration of the planets.

In their study, appearing in Astronomy & Astrophysics, the lead authors Professor José Abreu and Dr Jürg Beer from Eawag Aquatic Research demonstrate why they find the idea of planetary influence so convincing. Tracing the 5 most prominent periodicities of solar activity back over the last 10,000 years, they observed that the peaks and troughs reappear with precisely the same periodicity even after being reduced or vanishing altogether for some time. Dr Beer concludes, ‘Everything points to an external ‘clock’, and that can really only be the planets.’

Read more at: http://phys.org

Australia unveils telescope to warn of solar flares

Australia has unveiled a new radio telescope in the remote outback that will give the world a vastly improved view of the sun and much faster warnings on massive solar storms.

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope will detect flares on the sun’s surface that could damage communication satellites, electricity power grids and GPS navigation systems, director Steven Tingay said Saturday.

Tingay said large solar flares produced an eruption of particles that could wreck havoc on satellites, and also created strong magnetic fields.

“The telescope will be able to detect when those flares take place,” he told AFP.

Tingay said the goal was to predict the trajectory of potentially damaging debris and use this information to allow the reorientation of satellites or the shut down of communications systems that could be in its path.

He said while previously scientists could have about three or four hours’ warning of potentially damaging solar disturbances, the new telescope could give them up to 20 hours.

Read more at: http://phys.org

Solar Maximum Approaching

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