Sun  ID: 4189

Comparative Magnetospheres: A Carrington-Class CME

In an effort to understand and predict the impact of space weather events on Earth, the Community-Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, routinely runs computer models of the many historical events. These model runs are then compared to actual data to determine ways to improve the model, and therefore forecasts of the impacts of future space weather events.

But sometimes we don't have an actual event where we have lots of data for comparison. Extreme space weather events are one example where we must test models with a rather limited set of data.

This is a model run used to examine the consequences if a large coronal mass ejection (CME) such as The Carrington-Class CME of 2012 had actual hit Earth. Such model runs allow us to estimate consequences of a large event hitting Earth so we can better protect power grids and satellites.

Some of the conclusions from this model run are (documented in the paper linked below):
  • The magnetopause is compressed to the point it is moved inside the orbits of our geosynchronous satellites.

  • Large field-aligned currents are created on the night-side of Earth, generating large ionospheric potentials.

  • At high latitudes, geo-electric fields of 26 volts per kilometer can be generated.

For comparison, the geo-electric field of the March 1989 storm which generated an extensive power outage in Canada (Wikipedia) had a value of only about 6 volts per kilometer; and the 2003 Halloween solar storms (see Halloween Solar Storms 2003) generated a field of about 12 volts per kilometer.


Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (GST): Lead Animator
Genna Duberstein (USRA): Producer
Chigomezyo M. Ngwira (Department of Physics, Catholic University of America): Scientist
Antti Pulkinnen (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Maria M. Kuznetsova (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Alex Glocer (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Laurence Schuler (ADNET): Project Support
Ian Jones (ADNET): Project Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio, the Space Weather Research Center (SWRC), the Community-Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) and the Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF).

Science Paper:
Modeling extreme (Carrington-type) space weather events using three-dimensional MHD code simulations

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Data Used:
BATS-R-US Magnetosphere Model
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of these series:
The Carrington-Class CME of 2012
Comparative Magnetospheres

SVS >> Magnetosphere
SVS >> Solar Wind
SVS >> Sun
GCMD >> Location >> Magnetotail
SVS >> Space Weather
SVS >> Heliophysics
NASA Science >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Activity >> Coronal Mass Ejections

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version