By using multiple observatories, two recent studies show how solar flares exhibit pulses or oscillations in the amount of energy being sent out. Such research provides new insights on the origins of these massive solar flares as well as the space weather they produce, which is key information as humans and robotic missions venture out into the solar system, farther and farther from home.
Source NASA. As reported by https://watchers.news/2017/11/20/nasa-detects-solar-flare-pulses-at-sun-and-earth/
Featured image: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of an X-class flare on Feb. 15, 2011. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO.
In the second study, scientists investigated a connection between solar flares and activity in Earth's atmosphere. The team discovered that pulses in the electrified layer of the atmosphere—called the ionosphere—mirrored X-ray oscillations during a July 24, 2016, C-class flare. C-class flares are of mid-to-low intensity, and about 100 times weaker than X-flares. X-rays impinge on the ionosphere and because the amount of X-ray radiation coming in is changing, the amount of ionization in the ionosphere changes too. The oscillating ionosphere response hasn't been detected in the past, so this is an exciting result.
Both of these studies took advantage of the fact that NASA are increasingly able to track solar activity and space weather from a number of vantage points. Understanding the space weather that affects us at Earth requires understanding a dynamic system that stretches from the Sun all the way to our upper atmosphere—a system that can only be understood by tapping into a wide range of missions scattered throughout space.