Supercomputers provide a better picture of the Sun’s magnetic field

June 21, 2023

Large scale numerical simulations performed by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) on the supercomputers Cobra and Raven at the MPCDF led to new findings that challenge the conventional understanding of solar dynamics and could improve predictions of solar weather in the future, according to their study which was recently published in Nature Astronomy.

The Sun’s strong, dynamic magnetic field can catapult huge jets of plasma known as coronal mass ejections out into the Solar System. Sometimes these hit Earth, where they can knock out power grids and damage satellites. Scientists don’t fully understand how magnetic fields are generated and amplified inside the Sun, but a study recently published in Nature Astronomy by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany (MPS) and the Aalto University in Finland answers one of the fundamental questions about this complex process. By employing petascale supercomputers, they came as close as ever before to modelling the actual magnetic conditions in the Sun. Their calculations extend our understanding of how small-scale flows of the electrically charged plasma inside the Sun play a crucial role in generating our star’s magnetic field. By helping to clarify the dynamics behind solar weather, these findings could help predict major solar events a few days earlier, providing vital extra time for us to prepare. (summary taken from the MPS webite, read more)

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