One of the central mysteries of solar flares is how these explosions produce radiation and accelerate particles to near light speed within seconds.
The most powerful flares release magnetic energy equal to the force of millions of hydrogen bombs. The threat for our tech-based society is obvious: energized particles with the power to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, knock out satellites and take down power grids.
The research of Dale Gary and Bin Chen examines the physics behind solar flares, focusing on the elusive structure known as “termination shock,” believed to play a key role in converting released magnetic energy from flares into kinetic energy in accelerated particles. Through observations of a long-lasting solar flare captured by a radio telescope, the two NJIT scientists have demonstrated the structure’s role in accelerating particles. Dr. Chen used millions of images captured (40,000 per second) by the Jansky Very Large Array in developing a technique to visualize shock dynamics. NJIT’s own radio telescope, the Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array in California will become the first solar-dedicated array equipped with this new imaging capability.