Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


AOSS researchers look into the heart of a solar storm

Posted: August 28, 2014

AOSS researchers look into the heart of a solar storm

A recent story on titled, “Researchers Use NASA and Other Data to Look Into the Heart of a Solar Storm,” discussed a recent publication from Research Professor Janet Kozyra and colleagues.

The paper focused on a space weather storm from the sun, which engulfed Earth in January 2005. According to the article, “the event got its start on Jan. 20, when a cloud of solar material, a coronal mass ejection or CME, burst off the sun and headed toward Earth. When it arrived at our planet, the ring current and radiation belts surrounding Earth swelled with extra particles, while the aurora persisted for six hours. Both of these are usually signs of a very large storm…But the storm barely affected the magnetic fields around Earth.”

Kozyra thought this intriguing combination of a simultaneously weak and strong solar storm deserved further scrutiny.

"There were features appearing that we generally only see during extreme space weather events, when by other measures the storm was moderate," Kozyra told NASA. "We wanted to look at it holistically, much like terrestrial weather researchers do with extreme weather. We took every single piece of data that we could find on the solar storm and put it together to see what was going on."

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