Huge Solar Flare Reveals Explosive Magnetic Trigger

sdo-flare-2-670x440-140521For the first time, a massive solar flare revealed the process that created it, confirming new theories about flares and the explosive ejections of solar material often linked with them, a new study reports.

Understanding how solar flares form brings scientists a step closer to predicting them, along with the dangerous space weather that has the power to damage satellites and power grids on Earth, researchers said.

Captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft, the massive solar flare occurred on July 12, 2012 — less than a week after the publication of a new 3D model that suggested similar flares are driven by a process known as slipping reconnection, in which magnetic field lines disconnect and reconnect.

“The 2D standard solar flare model captures much of the physics involved, but has the inherent limitation of being a 2D model,” said study lead author Jaroslav Dudik of the University of Cambridge. “There can be no slipping reconnection in a 2D model, since it is missing the third dimension, in which the slipping motion occurs.” –Discovery News