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Supercomputer simulation of the solar magnetic field

The new findings challenge the conventional understanding of solar dynamics and could improve predictions of solar weather in the future.

The Sun’s strong, dynamic magnetic field can catapult huge jets of plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) 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 answers one of the fundamental questions about this complex process.

By clarifying 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.

The Sun’s magnetism comes from a process known as the solar dynamo. It consists of two main parts, the large-scale dynamo and the small-scale dynamo, neither of which scientists have been able to fully model yet. In fact, scientists aren’t even sure whether a small-scale dynamo could exist in the conditions found in the Sun. Addressing that uncertainty is important because a small-scale dynamo would have a large effect on solar dynamics.

Read more at Aalto University's press release and Nature Astronomy.