NASA Able to 'See' Storms on Hidden Side of Sun

Until now, it was difficult to predict what solar storms might emerge as the hidden side of the sun rotated into view. The sun's surface, as it rotated out of view, provided some indication of what might appear when that part of the surface reappeared, but a lot can happen in that interval. NASA researchers have found a way to look through the sun to "see" what's happening on the other side.

"The sun is filled with many kinds of sound waves caused by the convective (boiling) motion of gas in its surface layers," NASA said in its explanation. "The far side imaging method compares the sound waves that emanate from each small region on the far side with what was expected to arrive at that small region from waves that originated on the front side. An active region reveals itself because its strong magnetic fields speed up the sound waves. The difference becomes evident when sound waves originating from the front side and from the back side get out of step with one another."

"This new method allows more reliable advance warning of magnetic storms brewing on the far side that could rotate with the sun and threaten the Earth," said NASA-supported scientist Phil Scherrer of Stanford University. "The original far-side imaging method only allowed us to see the central regions, about one-quarter to one-third of its total area. The new method allows us to see the entire far side, including the poles."

For more information, visit Solar Storms: Nowhere to Hide from SOHO's Improved 'X-Ray Vision'.