Comparative Magnetospheres: A Carrington-Class CME

  • Released Thursday, September 25th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:50PM
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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.

This movie presents an oblique view of the geo-magnetic field and a vertical slice of density data. This view provides a better look of the three-dimensional structure of the magnetic field lines as the magnetosphere evolves.

Color bar for density data.  This  colorbar uses the same scale as "Comparative Magnetospheres: A Noteworthy Coronal Mass Ejection" to facilitate comparison.

Color bar for density data. This colorbar uses the same scale as "Comparative Magnetospheres: A Noteworthy Coronal Mass Ejection" to facilitate comparison.



Credits

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).


Series

This visualization can be found in the following series:

Papers used in this visualization


Datasets used in this visualization

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