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Solar Storms Can Change Directions, Surprising Nasa's Forecasters

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09/23/2010 10:11 AM
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Solar Storms Can Change Directions, Surprising Nasa's Forecasters
Solar Storms Can Change Directions, Surprising Forecasters

by Dr. Tony Phillips
[email protected]
Hunstville AL (SPX) Sep 23, 2010

Solar storms don't always travel in a straight line. But once they start heading in our direction, they can accelerate rapidly, gathering steam for a harder hit on Earth's magnetic field.

So say researchers who have been using data from NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft to unravel the 3D structure of solar storms. Their findings are presented in Nature Communications.

"This really surprised us," says co-author Peter Gallagher of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. "Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can start out going one way-and then turn in a different direction."

The result was so strange, at first they thought they'd done something wrong. After double- and triple-checking their work on dozens of eruptions, however, the team knew they were onto something.

To learn more about zig-zagging CMEs and the advanced computing techniques used to track them, read "Propagation of an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection in three dimensions" by Byrne et al in the Sept. 21, 2010, issue of Nature Communications.

[link to www.nature.com]
[link to www.spacedaily.com]