Xihe Space Telescope enhances understanding of solar plasma dynamics

Xihe Space Telescope enhances understanding of solar plasma dynamics

Xihe Space Telescope enhances understanding of solar plasma dynamics

By Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) February 06, 2024

Using spectroscopic imaging data from China’s first solar exploration satellite, Shihe, a group of Chinese physicists built 3D velocity diagrams of two types of plasma in the sun’s atmosphere. In a major advance in space weather research, scientists from Nanjing University, using observations from the Xihe Space Telescope, have made groundbreaking discoveries in the behavior of solar plasma that could significantly improve early warning systems for catastrophic space weather events. This research, detailed in a recent press release from the China National Space Administration, highlights the critical role of solar observations in protecting terrestrial and near-Earth space technology.

The Sheihe Telescope, named after the Chinese sun goddess and operating in sun-synchronous orbit, is at the forefront of this endeavor, providing unprecedented views of the sun’s surface and its dynamic processes. With its ability to scan the entire heliosphere in just 46 seconds, Xihe provides comprehensive spectral imaging across the entire Sun, allowing scientists to map the complex dynamics of dark bands and solar emitters.

These dark bands, suspended in the sun’s corona, contrast sharply with their surroundings due to their low temperatures and high densities. When observed at the edge of the Sun, these bands appear as bright structures known as prominences. Detailed observations from Xihe have allowed researchers to document the complex behaviors of these solar features, including expansion, extrusion, recession, rotation, and splitting, providing new insights into solar plasma dynamics.

The importance of this research lies in its ability to predict and mitigate the effects of space weather on Earth. Bursts of dark bars and solar emitters can trigger geomagnetic storms if directed toward Earth, posing a threat to satellites, communications networks, and energy infrastructure. The team’s ability to accurately measure the 3D velocity fields of this plasma is an essential step in developing more reliable prediction models for space weather events.

“Accurate measurement of the three-dimensional velocity fields of that plasma is of great importance for early warning and prediction of catastrophic space weather,” the researchers said in their statement. This research underscores the critical importance of solar observations and the development of cutting-edge instruments like Xihe to advance space weather science.

As the international community continues to rely heavily on satellite technology and as we advance in space exploration, understanding and predicting space weather will become increasingly critical. The work done by Chinese scientists using the Sheikha Space Telescope is a vital component of global efforts to protect our technological infrastructure and ensure the safety of astronauts on space missions.

Based on an article by Xinhua News Agency

Related links

China National Space Agency

Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

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