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Incoming Solar Storm

* Time & Date: Incoming solar storm expected at 07:42 on 13 December 2010 GMT
* Estimated speed: 286 kilometres per second
* Proximity to Earth: Hit, 23 degrees behind

Scientists have used data analysed by the public to predict a significant solar storm that should hit Earth on Monday 13 December, thanks to the Solar Stormwatch web project.
The latest storm identified by the project is predicted to hit Earth at 07.42 GMT on Monday 13 December.

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Space Weather
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Sneak Attacks from the Sun

Our Sun can be a menace when it sends out powerful solar blasts of radiation towards the Earth. Astronomers keenly watch the Sun to learn more about what powers these solar eruptions, in hopes of being able to predict them. New research shows that one-third of the Sun's blasts are "sneak attacks" that may occur without warning.
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NASA could get funds for solar-storm warning system

Congress is keeping an eye out for stormy weather in space. Last week, the House Science and Technology Committee approved an authorisation bill for NASA that includes provisions for issuing warnings about inclement solar weather in the form of storms that could damage satellites and affect space and Earth-based communications systems and power grids.
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Space Weather Turns into an International Problem

Sometimes a problem is so big, one country cannot handle it alone.
That's the message scientists are delivering at today's International Living with a Star (ILWS) meeting in Bremen, Germany, and representatives from more than 25 of the world's most technologically-advanced nations have gathered to hear what they have to say.

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Man-made aurora to help predict space weather

For more than 25 years, our understanding of terrestrial space weather has been partly based on incorrect assumptions about how nitrogen, the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, reacts when it collides with electrons produced by energetic ultraviolet sunlight and "solar wind."
New research published today, Tuesday 8 June, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics describes how scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology have fired electrons of differing energies through a cloud of nitrogen gas to measure the ultraviolet light emitted by this collision.
The researchers have found that well-trusted measurements published in a 1985 journal paper by researchers Ajello and Shemansky contain a significant experimental error, putting decades of space weather findings dependent on this work on unstable ground.
The difference between these contemporary findings and the 1985 researchers' work stems from the 2010 team's improved ability to create and control the collisions and avoid the analytical pitfalls that plagued the 1985 findings.
The new results from the team at JPL suggest that the intensity of a broad band of ultraviolet light emitted from the collision changes significantly less with bombarding electron energies than previously thought.

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Solar Storms
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Every few decades, the sun experiences a particularly large storm that can release as much energy as 1 billion hydrogen bombs. Officials from Europe and the U.S. say an event like that could leave millions on Earth without electricity, running water and phone service.
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Scientists listen to the sun in new sonification project

Scientists can now listen to a set of solar wind data that's usually represented visually, as numbers or graphs. University of Michigan researchers have "sonified" the data. They've created an acoustic, or musical, representation of it. The researchers' primary goal was to try to hear information that their eyes might have missed in solar wind speed and particle density data gathered by NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer satellite.
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Smart dust could give early warning of space storms

Tiny spacecraft could improve our ability to detect sun storms, adding valuable minutes to the time we have to act

A swarm of "smart dust" spacecraft, positioned at a sweet spot between the Earth and the sun, could alert us to the approach of dangerous space storms well before a conventional craft can. The first prototypes are due for launch into low-Earth orbit this year, perhaps as early as May.
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Solarstormwatch
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Solar scientists need you!

Help them spot explosions on the Sun and track them across space to Earth. Your work will give astronauts an early warning if dangerous solar radiation is headed their way. And you could make a new scientific discovery.
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Solar winds triggered by magnetic fields
Solar wind generated by the sun is probably driven by a process involving powerful magnetic fields, according to a new study led by UCL (University College London) researchers based on the latest observations from the Hinode satellite.
Scientists have long speculated on the source of solar winds. The Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), on board the Japanese-UK-US Hinode satellite, is now generating unprecedented observations enabling scientists to provide a new perspective on the 50-year old question of how solar wind is driven. The collaborative study, published in this month's issue of Astrophysical Journal, suggests that a process called slipping reconnection may drive these winds.

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Title: Magnetic reconnection along quasi-separatrix layers as a driver of ubiquitous active region outflows.
Authors: D. Baker, L. van Driel-Gesztelyi, C. H. Mandrini, P. Démoulin and M. J. Murray

Hinode's EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) has discovered ubiquitous outflows of a few to 50 km s1 from active regions (ARs). These outflows are most prominent at the AR boundary and appear over monopolar magnetic areas. They are linked to strong non-thermal line broadening and are stronger in hotter EUV lines. The outflows persist for at least several days. Using Hinode EIS and X-Ray Telescope observations of AR 10942 coupled with magnetic modelling, we demonstrate that the outflows originate from specific locations of the magnetic topology where field lines display strong gradients of magnetic connectivity, namely quasi-separatrix layers (QSLs), or in the limit of infinitely thin QSLs, separatrices. We found the strongest AR outflows to be in the vicinity of QSL sections located over areas of strong magnetic field. We argue that magnetic reconnection at QSLs separating closed field lines of the AR and either large-scale externally connected or "open" field lines is a viable mechanism for driving AR outflows which are likely sources of the slow solar wind.

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