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Visual Representation of Earth Directed Solar activity


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I am intrigued by the small active region in the Northern hemisphere of the sun that has a pretty decently sized coronal hole next to it. While I know very little about the physics of an area like this, it is nice to start learning about these regions as we slowly start to increase in solar activity again.

My question is how a non-mathematician such as myself would be able to make sense of "earth facing" activity not necessarily meaning "earth directed" activity. Is there a pretty reliable method of calculating the solar wind path or does it vary? Is there a way to visually represent where on the sun the earth directed activity is coming from at any given time? If there is a large flare on the earth facing side, it might not actually interfere with earth that much, correct?

I hope that makes sense. It's super easy to visualize what I'm trying to say, but difficult to put into terms.



Edited by shirleydarkillustrat
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Give the help article a thorough read, as it will help you understand the main page and the various space weather conditions: https://www.spaceweatherlive.com/en/help

In short, the IMF varies in orientation and that variance can be seen there, usually pointing north, south, or fluctuating between the two. This data is fairly technical, but doesn't require significant education to understand.

The WSA-Enlil page also shows a model that, while seemingly complex at first, is actually quite comprehensive for visualizing Earth(and the rest of the inner solar system) relative to the IMF and any CMEs.

As for anything that is considered Earth-facing, the SDO is situated roughly in-line with Earth relative to the Sun, so if a coronal hole is visible in SDO imagery it is on the Earth-facing side of the solar disc. Simply put, the side of the Sun we can see from Earth-orbiting satellites or ground telescopes is the Earth-facing disk.

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44 minutes ago, Christopher S. said:

The WSA-Enlil page also shows a model that, while seemingly complex at first, is actually quite comprehensive for visualizing Earth

This might be what is throwing my imagination off. The spiral of the solar wind on the ENLIL makes me think of the amount of time before it would reach earth as being an almost instantaneous, straight shot. 

I want to understand perhaps on a predictable visual level that isn't quite accurate. I wish I had gone to school for this stuff. 😅 I will read the help page multiple times to pound the information into my fantasy-filled artist brain. Maybe with some thorough understanding I will be able to accurately illustrate the complex functions of the sun... wouldn't that be cool?

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I understand what you mean. In meteorology, with a satellite like GOES for instance, each frame represents a specific time window - this is often referred to as "resolution". With computer models, the resolution has to be lower than real-time because the data cannot be processed and delivered as fast as it can receive it, so arbitrarily and practically there have to be time-steps with a big enough gap between real-time and work-time so that the data feed can be continuous.

The most difficult part of visualizing the IMF is putting yourself to-scale with the rest of the universe; the Earth is so much larger than a human being, so much deeper than we could possibly hope to physically reach... and we're so much smaller than a planet like Jupiter, which is so much smaller than the Sun, which is only one of approximately 100,000,000,000 stars(simplified estimate) in our galaxy, which is one of countless numbers of galaxies... It betrays our sense of reality, as we can typically only see up to a couple hundred miles/kilometers at any given vantage point(within Earth), and to say that scratches the surface is an overstatement.

The easiest way to understand is not visualizing, but putting numbers to it. The more you understand the numbers, like distance to the Sun, the speed of light, the speed of solar wind, so on and so forth, the more accurate that visualization will seem - it will never quite be a precise idea, but that is okay! That is the purpose of the numbers, to have a concrete figure to compare against other figures.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "The universe is under no obligation to be understood by you."

Edited by Christopher S.
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Thank you for that. 

I have always seen math as its own strange form of art, but while I know people who are amazing at understanding mathematics and can't draw a decent stick figure, I can draw accurate anatomy by memory but have difficulty understanding very basic algebra. I appreciate everything about space weather, but the most amazing part to me is how you're able to transform data, formulas and numbers into visual representations at all. Albeit may not be 100% accurate, It's mind-blowing.

I was trying to follow a presentation by NOAA about the computer programs that they use to predict space weather. I was lost at the first Acronym. 😅 If I could somehow take all of the knowledge and jam it in my fatty brain tissue, that'd be great. The next best way to make sense of it similar to that of anatomy drawing. If you understand what everything is, what its made out of, how it functions, and the affect it has on the things around it, it's much easier to accurately visualize.

Thanks again for meeting me with such reason. Hearing answers from knowledgeable people is much more impacting than attempting to read the first article that pops up on a very complicated google search.

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