Scientists have employed supercomputers to predict how solar corona will look during the total solar eclipse on August 21.
Solar corona is the aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and extends millions of kilometers into space.
The solar eclipse will be visible across much of the US, tracing a 112-kilometer-wide band across 14 states, researchers said.
They completed a series of highly detailed solar simulations timed to the moment of the eclipse using University of Texas at Austin’s Stampede2 supercomputer, Comet at the San Diego Supercomputers Center, and NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer.
“Advanced computational resources are crucial to developing detailed physical models of the solar corona and solar wind,” said Jon Linker, president and senior research scientist of Predictive Science Inc (PSI), the US company that forecast the corona of the Sun.
The researchers’ computer simulations were converted into scientific visualizations that approximate what the human eye might see during the solar eclipse.
The simulations are among the largest the research group has performed, using 65 million grid points to provide great
accuracy and realism.
Predictions about the appearance of the corona during an eclipse test complex, three-dimensional computational models of the Sun against visible reality.
Doing so improves the accuracy of predicting space weather, which could have important practical ramifications.
Predicting the arrival of such a solar storm in advance would allow officials to take the most critical electronic infrastructure offline and limit the storm’s impact.
However, doing so requires understanding how the visible surface of the Sun (the corona) relates to the mass ejections
of plasma that cause space weather.
“With the ability to more accurately model solar plasma’s, researchers will be able to better predict and reduce the impacts of space weather on key pieces of infrastructure that drive today’s digital world,” said Niall Gaffney, a former Hubble Space Telescope scientist and director of data intensive computing at Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).