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Solar scientists blaze new trails at Hinode workshop

More than 200 solar scientists met at NCAR during the week of September 29 to discuss how recent observations and leading-edge computer models are producing breakthroughs in understanding the Sun. The Second Hinode Science Meeting focused on findings emerging from the Hinode satellite-borne solar observatory, which was launched by Japan in 2006 with U.S. and European involvement. NCAR contributed to Hinode’s Solar Optical Telescope.

HinodeResearchers used Hinode data from the February 17, 2007, partial eclipse of the moon to calibrate the amount of stray light reaching the telescopes. (Image courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.)

Although the meeting centered on Hinode, participants from around the world also discussed recent simulations of solar behavior as well as fresh data from 3other observing platforms. Topics ranged from sunspots and the solar wind to loops, jets, and plumes emerging from the solar corona.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of the meeting is that numerical models and simulations of the solar atmosphere, including magnetic effects, are beginning to give us true insight into the nature of physical processes,” says ESSL/HAO’s Bruce Lites, who chaired the meeting’s scientific organizing committee.

For example, HAO’s Matthias Rempel presented findings from a new sunspot simulation conducted with Manfred Schüssler (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research) and HAO director Michael Knölker. Scheduled to appear in Astrophysical Journal next January, the study includes some of the most detailed modeling of an individual sunspot ever conducted. “This work gives us our first real understanding of questions about sunspots that have been posed for over a century,” says Bruce.

One of the meeting’s attendees was Grant Athay, who joined HAO in the 1950s—before NCAR was founded—and who spent many years on the HAO scientific staff. “Grant’s foresight is responsible for developments that led to the choice of instrumentation on Hinode,” says Bruce. “His work on understanding the solar chromosphere is still inspiring research by Hinode scientists.”

The meeting program, including abstracts, can be found on the Hinode-2 website.

HinodeParticipants at the Second Hinode Science Meeting gathered for a portrait at Center Green on September 29.