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RE: Space Weather Forecasting
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Whether it's showering spacecraft with lethal radiation, filling the sky with ghostly light, or causing electrical surges that black-out entire cities, space weather is a force to be reckoned with.
Thankfully, all is calm in space on the day that I speak to Bill Murtagh at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado.

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Sunspot penumbrae
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Title: On the origin of reverse polarity patches found by Hinode in sunspot penumbrae
Authors: J. Sanchez Almeida (1 and 2), K. Ichimoto (3) ((1) Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, (2) Departamento de Astrofisica, Universidad de La Laguna, (3) Kwasan and Hida Observatories, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)

The satellite Hinode has recently revealed penumbral structures with a magnetic polarity opposite to the main sunspot polarity. They may be a direct confirmation of magnetic field lines and mass flows returning to the solar interior throughout the penumbra, a configuration previously inferred from interpretation of observed Stokes profile asymmetries. The paper points out the relationship between the reverse polarity features found by Hinode, and the model Micro-Structured Magnetic Atmospheres (MISMAs) proposed for sunspots. We show how the existing model MISMAs produce strongly redshifted reverse polarity structures as found by Hinode. Ad hoc model MISMAs also explain the asymmetric Stokes profiles observed by Hinode. The same modelling may be consistent with magnetograms of dark cored penumbral filaments if the dark cores are associated with the reverse polarity. Such hypothetical relationship will show up only in the far red wings of the spectral lines.

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NMSU to study space weather
Astronomers at New Mexico State University have been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA to better understand the depths of the sun and predict weather in space.

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IBM and Uppsala University and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics announced today a major new Stream Computing project to analyse massive volumes of information in real time to better understand "space weather". By using IBM InfoSphere Streams to analyse data from sensors that track high frequency radio waves, endless amounts of data can be captured and analysed on the fly. Over the next year, this project is expected to perform analytics on at least 6 gigabytes per second or 21,600 gigabytes per hour - the equivalent of all the Web pages on the Internet.

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An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots.

"If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78" - panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Centre.


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The precise spot at which a space storm struck the Earth's outer atmosphere has been pinpointed for the first time.
These storms are caused by the bending and stretching of the Earth's magnetic field by material from the Sun.
Observations like this may one day lead to better forecasting of these events, a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Toronto, Canada, has heard.

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Canadian scientists said they have been able to trace a solar substorm behind the northern lights back to its origin in space, a development that could provide a new tool in predicting space weather.
University of Alberta physicists Jonathan Rae and Ian Mann and a team of researchers used data obtained from five space satellites and several ground stations to pinpoint the epicentre of a solar substorm and revealed their findings Monday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Toronto.


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The brilliant, haunting phenomenon known as the Northern Lights can also be a potentially deadly source of energy in outer space -- but Canadian researchers have now found a way to help protect astronauts and equipment from the fallout of aurora borealis.

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Ed ~ Note that it is solar storms and not the Northern Lights that are the deadly sources of energy in outer space.


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Scientists say they have demonstrated the principle of a very effective early warning system that would give notice of huge eruptions on the Sun.
Two Nasa spacecraft have been used to track massive clouds of energetic particles thrown off our star.
These eruptions, when they hit the Earth, can damage satellites, disrupt communications and harm astronauts.


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Burps of hot ionised gas from the sun can knock out satellites and power grids when they hit Earth. Till now their arrival has been hard to predict, but the first images of an earthbound burst captured by two satellites simultaneously have shown that we could get warnings 24 hours in advance that trouble is heading our way.

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