I always enjoy hearing about new discoveries in space science. I especially enjoy it when we learn more about our Sun. AND I really really enjoy it when it's a discovery made by researchers from my old University and have met in the past.
George Mason University professor Jie Zhang and his graduate student Xin Cheng proved the existence of 'magnetic ropes' that cause solar storms. They used images from NASA Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) to solve this blank in the understanding of heliophysics (the physics of the Sun). They presented their findings
Here are press articles from GMU and Space.com that describe a bit about the discovery. Essentially, there is now an understanding of what causes solar storms, a twisting tangle of magnetic fields that can create an immense eruption. Though it was already believed that these ropes could lead to eruptions, this research confirms it.
With this now known, astronomers are a step closer to understanding and predicting solar storms. This will be of a great benefit to just about anyone who relies on electricity. Solar storms have the potential to knock out power grids for extended periods (perhaps years) and cause catastrophic damage.
This sort of solar research is essential for protecting infrastructure and communication around the globe. So, I am thankful for the intelligent work of these researchers and hopefully much more will come. The results of the study were reported at the American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division Meeting, which is being held from June 12 to 16 at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
[You may have noticed I haven't been as active lately. I've been a bit busy planning my 4th of July break, of which I'll likely be gone for a week. I'm looking at leaving for North Carolina's Outer Banks on the 30th. I'll probably make a couple scheduled posts. I have also been filling out job apps like it's my job. Seriously, there has to be a better way than filling in all the same info over and over again on every different website's application form. Oh well, it has gotta get done. Also, I am going to a friends wedding this weekend, so see you all on Monday. Hope you get to enjoy some sun and pleasant weather.]