Space Weather Modeling

  • Released Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
  • Updated Monday, April 6th, 2020 at 12:00AM


Energetic events on the Sun can have dramatic impact on Earth and its magnetosphere. These natural events can have significant effects on Earth and space-based technologies that can cause anything from inconveniences (such as minor communications and power disruptions) to high-impact events that have significant political and economic implications (outages of large sections of the electrical power grid and other support infrastructure).

To better meet these challenges, mathematical models of the heliospheric and geospace environment are under development to better forecast these solar energetic events and their impacts on Earth.

The visualizations here illustrate two models generated by the CCMC for modeling space weather events. The CCMC hosts many different computational models. Both models were generated based on a single coronal mass ejection (CME) event in December 2006.

Enlil: The Enlil model is a time-dependent 3-D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD, Wikipedia) model of the heliosphere. In these simulations, the model covers a torus-like region around the Sun, with the inner edge at about 0.1 astronomical units (AU) (about 22 solar radii) from the Sun and the outer edge extends beyond the orbit of Mars (1.5 AU). The model extends to 60 degrees above and below the solar equator. The model propagates the changes in particle flows and magnetic fields.

BATS-R-US: BATS-R-US is also an MHD model of plasma from the solar wind moving through the Earth's magnetic dipole field. The model is initialized using measurements of the solar wind density, velocity, temperature, and magnetic field from satellites orbiting L1, such as ACE.

The Original Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)

Here are satellite views of the original flare/CME event of December 13, 2006 02:54 GMT on which these simulation runs are based.

The Computer Modeled Event

Notable CMEs Modeled by the CCMC