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Astrophysics ; plasma physics


Improving the prediction of solar eruptions by measuring magnetic helicity

Magnetic helicity is one of the few conserved quantities in magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), the physical paradigm used to study the solar regions that cause eruptions and magnetic storms on Earth.

Although preliminary results underlined the key role of magnetic helicity in solar activity, measuring helicity remained limited due to its inherent complexity. By drawing on new measurement methods, HeliSol aimed to study in depth the quantity of magnetic helicity in the solar atmosphere based on both observations and advanced numerical 3D MHD simulations.

The HeliSol project thus highlighted a robust criterion determining the eruptivity of active solar regions, paving the way for detailed, deterministic prediction of solar eruptions.

The project

ANR programme: Generic Call for Proposals

Edition, project duration: 2015, 48 months

ANR grant : € 301,600


Project region: Île-de-France

Main publication or contribution:

Artistic view of the twisted magnetic field during an observed solar eruption. © G.Valori, M.Berger & NASA/SDO

HeliSol should lead to improvements in the capacity of space weather forecasting centres to anticipate solar eruptions, moving from heuristic methods to deterministic forecasts, which will help protect human technologies that are sensitive to solar activity.