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Detect sunspots 2 days before flares strike

Monday 08.22.2011 , Posted by
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A new way to detect sunspots as deep as 65,000 kilometers inside the sun can offer up to two days’ advance warning of a solar flare. Flares can cause billions of dollars in damage to satellites, communications networks and power grids—not to mention astronauts in space. If disruptions such as solar flares and mass eruptions could be predicted, protective measures could be taken to shield vulnerable electronics before solar storms strike.

Sunspots develop in active solar regions of strong, concentrated magnetic fields and appear dark when they reach the surface of the sun. Eruptions of the intense magnetic flux give rise to solar storms, but until now, no one has had luck in predicting them.

Now Stanford University researchers are using acoustic waves to catch sunspots in the early stage of development.

Full story at Futurity.

(Photo credit: Thomas Hartlep)

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