SDO helps measure magnetic fields on the sun's surface

January 20, 2012 By Karen C. Fox

(PhysOrg.com) -- Science nuggets are a collection of early science results, new research techniques, and instrument updates that further our attempt to understand the sun and the dynamic space weather system that surrounds Earth.

A subset of data that helps map out the sun's magnetic fields was recently released from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (). Observations that measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields on the -- known as vector magnetograms -- play a crucial role in understanding how those fields change over time and trigger giant eruptions off the surface of the sun such as and coronal (CMEs).

Collecting the information needed to make vector magnetograms is one of several tasks performed by SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), an instrument led by a team at Stanford University. HMI has been collecting data since May of 2010, providing scientific data on the strength of the sun's magnetic field and the sound waves moving around inside the Sun.

HMI relies on interpreting the way light is affected as it travels through the fields in order to measure them from afar. For example, a phenomenon known as the Zeeman effect splits light into different wavelengths based on the magnetic field strength and, in addition, light may be polarized based on the magnetic field direction. HMI uses these observations to produce vector magnetograms. Producing vector magnetograms at HMI’s high resolution, however, required developing new computer processing techniques to successfully interpret subtle details about the magnetic field.

In early December, the HMI team released their vector magnetograms for one area of the sun, named Active Region 11158, collected during February 12-16, 2011. As a larger group of researchers examines the new data, the team can refine their computer processing algorithms if necessary and then release all the vector magnetic field data that HMI has collected.

Explore further: Instrument to make detailed measurements of sun activity

More information: For more information about the Solar Dynamics Observatory, visit: www.nasa.gov/sdo

Related Stories

Instrument to make detailed measurements of sun activity

December 5, 2007

For five years, Stanford research physicist Phil Scherrer and his team have raised a sophisticated space telescope with the attention a parent gives to a child, preparing it for the day when it flies away on a satellite to ...

First Solar Dynamic Observatory Instrument Arrives at Goddard

September 7, 2007

The University of Colorado at Boulder delivered the Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE), first of three Solar Dynamic Observatory instruments, to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. EVE will measure ...

Rotating sunspots spin up a super solar flare

April 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The largest solar flare recorded in nearly five years was triggered by interactions between five rotating sunspots. Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire studied observations of the flaring ...

Did a comet hit cause an explosion on the sun?

October 5, 2011

This amazing video from the SOHO mission (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) shows a sun-diving comet hitting the solar surface on October 1, 2011 and unexpectedly a huge explosion occurs shortly after. Are the two events ...

Recommended for you

Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

January 20, 2017

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

January 20, 2017

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small ...

Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

January 20, 2017

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip ...

The evolution of massive galaxy clusters

January 20, 2017

Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, like the South ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (1) Jan 22, 2012
Sub: SUN- Balanced Mode
SDO is contributing excellent data.Almost daily , I keep a track.
Plasma Regulated Electromagnetic Phenomena in magnetic Field environment.Comprehension and interaction helps in time.
see:http://vidyardhic...spot.com

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.