First accurate measurements of electric currents on the solar photosphere

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute für Sonnenphysik achieve the first accurate measurements of electric currents in the solar atmosphere.

Scientist at the Leibniz-Institut für Sonnenphysik in Freiburg, in collaboration with colleagues from Stockholm University (Sweden) and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain) have developed a new method that allows to determine accurate electric currents on the solar surface. Electric currents form in the presence of non-potential configurations of the magnetic field and also when magnetic reconnection is present. These are believed to cause explosive events on the solar atmosphere (flares, coronal mass ejections, etc) and therefore this method can potentially represent a mayor breakthrough in our ability to forecast space weather and events that can strongly affect the Earth's magnetosphere.

The new method is based on the solution of the radiative transfer equation with magneto-hydrostatic constraints and it has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters. This work has been funded, among others, by the Deutsche Forschung Gemeinschaft (DFG).