Studying the Sun’s corona

  • A solar eclipse is set to take place, which will be visible across all of continental United States. 

  • About 16% of the U.S. territory will witness a total eclipse, which will last longest at Carbondale, Illinois, for 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds. Since this eclipse has the special feature of lasting for so long over the mainland, scientists across the world are trying to use it to verify their theories on the Sun.

  • This can help them model “space weather” and predict solar storms that can affect the operation of satellites and even electric power grids on Earth.

Computer simulations

  • The “great American solar eclipse” is keeping scientists at the Centre for Excellence in Space Sciences India (CESSI) in the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata, busy even before begins. Using computer simulations, they have predicted the shape that the outer layer of the Sun — its corona — will take during the total eclipse.

  • If their prediction is correct, their model of the Sun will be validated and they can then fine-tune it to make predictions of space weather, for one, which is CESSI’s eventual mandate.

  • Space weather impacts modern day technologies such as satellite operations, telecommunications, GPS navigational networks and electric power grids.

  • So, astronomical events such as an eclipse, which offers a chance of diagnosing the coronal magnetic field, are an opportunity for solar physicists to test their theoretical ideas and models to be able to refine them.


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