Publication archive

Publication archive

On 2014 October 14 the Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing EUV solar telescope on board the Project for On Board Autonomy 2 spacecraft observed an eruption that led to the formation of perhaps the largest post-eruptive loop system seen in the solar corona in solar cycle 24. The initial eruption occurred at about 18:30 UT on October 14, behind the east Solar limb, and was observed as a a coronal mass ejection and an M2.2 solar flare. In the 48 hr following the eruption, the associated post-eruptive loops grew to a height of approximately 4 × 105 km > 0.5 RSun) at rates between 2 and 6 km s-1. We conclude from our observations of this event that ordinary post-eruptive loops and so-called post-flare giant arches are fundamentally the same and are formed by the same magnetic reconnection mechanism.
Published: 01 March 2015
We report on the first observation of a single hybrid magnetic structure that contains both a pseudostreamer and a double streamer. This structure was originally observed by the SWAP instrument on board the PROBA2 satellite between 2013 May 5 and 10. It consists of a pair of filament channels near the south pole of the Sun. On the western edge of the structure, the magnetic morphology above the filaments is that of a side-by-side double streamer, with open field between the two channels. On the eastern edge, the magnetic morphology is that of a coronal pseudostreamer without the central open field. We investigated this structure with multiple observations and modeling techniques. We describe the topology and dynamic consequences of such a unified structure.
Published: 21 May 2014
The Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing (SWAP) EUV solar telescope on board the Project for On-Board Autonomy 2 spacecraft has been regularly observing the solar corona in a bandpass near 17.4 nm since 2010 February. With a field of view of 54 × 54 arcmin, SWAP provides the widest-field images of the EUV corona available from the perspective of the Earth. By carefully processing and combining multiple SWAP images, it is possible to produce low-noise composites that reveal the structure of the EUV corona to relatively large heights. A particularly important step in this processing was to remove instrumental stray light from the images by determining and deconvolving SWAP's point-spread function from the observations. In this paper, we use the resulting images to conduct the first-ever study of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the corona observed in the EUV over a three year period that includes the complete rise phase of solar cycle 24. Of particular note is the persistence over many solar rotations of bright, diffuse features composed of open magnetic fields that overlie polar crown filaments and extend to large heights above the solar surface. These features appear to be related to coronal fans, which have previously been observed in white-light coronagraph images and, at low heights, in the EUV. We also discuss the evolution of the corona at different heights above the solar surface and the evolution of the corona over the course of the solar cycle by hemisphere.
Published: 01 November 2013
There are very few reports of flare signatures in the solar irradiance at H I Lyman alpha at 121.5 nm, i.e. the strongest line of the solar spectrum. The LYRA radiometer onboard PROBA2 has observed several flares for which unambiguous signatures have been found in its Lyman-alpha channel. Here we present a brief overview of these observations followed by a detailed study of one of them: the M2 flare that occurred on 8 February 2010. For this flare, the flux in the LYRA Lyman-alpha channel increased by 0.6 %, which represents about twice the energy radiated in the GOES soft X-ray channel and is comparable with the energy radiated in the He ii line at 30.4 nm. The Lyman-alpha emission represents only a minor part of the total radiated energy of this flare, for which a white-light continuum was detected. Additionally, we found that the Lyman-alpha flare profile follows the gradual phase but peaks before other wavelengths. This M2 flare was very localized and had a very brief impulsive phase, but more statistics are needed to determine if these factors influence the presence of a Lyman-alpha flare signal strong enough to appear in the solar irradiance.
Published: 02 July 2013
The Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing (SWAP) EUV imager onboard PROBA2 provides a non-stop stream of coronal extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) images at a cadence of typically 130 seconds. These images show the solar drivers of space-weather, such as flares and erupting filaments. We have developed a software tool that automatically processes the images and localises and identifies flares. On one hand, the output of this software tool is intended as a service to the Space Weather Segment of ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program. On the other hand, we consider the PROBA2/SWAP images as a model for the data from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument prepared for the future Solar Orbiter mission, where onboard intelligence is required for prioritising data within the challenging telemetry quota. In this article we present the concept of the software, the first statistics on its effectiveness and the online display in real time of its results. Our results indicate that it is not only possible to detect EUV flares automatically in an acquired dataset, but that quantifying a range of EUV dynamics is also possible. The method is based on thresholding of macropixelled image sequences. The robustness and simplicity of the algorithm is a clear advantage for future onboard use.
Published: 02 July 2013
SWAP images from PROBA2 taken at 174 Å in the Fe ix/x lines are compared with simultaneous slitless flash spectra obtained during the solar total eclipse of 11 July 2010. Myriad faint low-excitation emission lines together with the He i and He ii Paschen alpha chromospheric lines are recorded on eclipse spectra where regions of limb prominences are obtained with space-borne imagers. We analyzed a deep flash spectrum obtained by summing 80 individual spectra to evaluate the intensity modulations of the continuum. Intensity deficits are observed and measured at the prominences boundaries in both eclipse and SWAP images. The prominence cavities interpreted as a relative depression of plasma density, produced inside the corona surrounding the prominences, and some intense heating occurring in these regions, are discussed. Photometric measurements are shown at different scales and different, spectrally narrow, intervals for both the prominences and the coronal background.
Published: 02 July 2013
The Large Yield Radiometer (LYRA) is an XUV-EUV-MUV (soft X-ray to mid-ultraviolet) solar radiometer onboard the European Space Agency Project for On-Board Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) mission, which was launched in November 2009. LYRA acquires solar-irradiance measurements at a high cadence (nominally 20 Hz) in four broad spectral channels, from soft X-ray to MUV, which have been chosen for their relevance to solar physics, space weather, and aeronomy. We briefly review the design of the instrument, give an overview of the data products distributed through the instrument website, and describe how the data are calibrated. We also briefly present a summary of the main fields of research currently under investigation by the LYRA consortium.
Published: 02 July 2013
We analyze the variability of the spectral solar irradiance during the period from 7 January 2010 until 20 January 2010 as measured by the Herzberg channel (190-222 nm) of the Large Yield RAdiometer (LYRA) onboard PROBA2. In this period of time, observations by the LYRA nominal unit experienced degradation and the signal produced by the Herzberg channel frequently jumped from one level to another. Both factors significantly complicate the analysis. We present the algorithm that allowed us to extract the solar variability from the LYRA data and compare the results with SORCE/SOLSTICE measurements and with modeling based on the Code for the Solar Irradiance (COSI).
Published: 02 July 2013
The Sun Watcher using Active Pixel system detector and Image Processing (SWAP) onboard the PRoject for OnBoard Autonomy-2 (PROBA2) spacecraft provides images of the solar corona in EUV channel centered at 174 Å. These data, together with the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), are used to study the dynamics of coronal bright points. The evolution of the magnetic polarities and associated changes in morphology are studied using magnetograms and multi-wavelength imaging. The morphology of the bright points seen in low-resolution SWAP images and high-resolution AIA images show different structures, whereas the intensity variations with time show similar trends in both SWAP 174 Å and AIA 171 Å channels. We observe that bright points are seen in EUV channels corresponding to a magnetic flux of the order of 1018 Mx. We find that there exists a good correlation between total emission from the bright point in several UV-EUV channels and total unsigned photospheric magnetic flux above certain thresholds. The bright points also show periodic brightenings, and we have attempted to find the oscillation periods in bright points and their connection to magnetic-flux changes. The observed periods are generally long (10-25 minutes) and there is an indication that the intensity oscillations may be generated by repeated magnetic reconnection.
Published: 02 July 2013
We analyze the light curves of the recent solar eclipses measured by the Herzberg channel (200-220 nm) of the Large Yield RAdiometer (LYRA) onboard Project for OnBoard Autonomy (PROBA2). The measurements allow us to accurately retrieve the center-to-limb variations (CLV) of the solar brightness. The formation height of the radiation depends on the observing angle, so the examination of the CLV provide information about a broad range of heights in the solar atmosphere. We employ the 1D NLTE radiative transfer COde for Solar Irradiance (COSI) to model the measured light curves and corresponding CLV dependencies. The modeling is used to test and constrain the existing 1D models of the solar atmosphere, e.g. the temperature structure of the photosphere and the treatment of the pseudo-continuum opacities in the Herzberg continuum range. We show that COSI can accurately reproduce not only the irradiance from the entire solar disk, but also the measured CLV. Hence it can be used as a reliable tool for modeling the variability of the spectral solar irradiance.
Published: 02 July 2013
We analyze multi-wavelength and multi-viewpoint observations of a large-scale event viewed on 7 April 2011, originating from an active-region complex. The activity leads to a white-light jet being formed in the outer corona. The topology and evolution of the coronal structures were imaged in high resolution using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). In addition, large field-of-view images of the corona were obtained using the Sun Watcher using Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing (SWAP) telescope onboard the PRoject for Onboard Autonomy (PROBA2) microsatellite, providing evidence for the connectivity of the coronal structures with outer coronal features that were imaged with the Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) C2 on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The data sets reveal an Eiffel-tower type jet configuration extending into a narrow jet in the outer corona. The event starts from the growth of a dark area in the central part of the structure. The darkening was also observed in projection on the disk by the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory-Ahead (STEREO-A) spacecraft from a different point of view. We assume that the dark volume in the corona descends from a coronal cavity of a flux rope that moved up higher in the corona but still failed to erupt. The quadrupolar magnetic configuration corresponds to a saddle-like shape of the dark volume and provides a possibility for the plasma to escape along the open field lines into the outer corona, forming the white-light jet.
Published: 02 July 2013
The identification of solar-wind sources is an important question in solar physics. The existing solar-wind models (e.g., the Wang-Sheeley-Arge model) provide the approximate locations of the solar wind sources based on magnetic field extrapolations. It has been suggested recently that plasma outflows observed at the edges of active regions may be a source of the slow solar wind. To explore this we analyze an isolated active region (AR) adjacent to small coronal hole (CH) in July/August 2009. On 1 August, Hinode/EUV Imaging Spectrometer observations showed two compact outflow regions in the corona. Coronal rays were observed above the active-region coronal hole (ARCH) region on the eastern limb on 31 July by STEREO-A/EUVI and at the western limb on 7 August by CORONAS-Photon/TESIS telescopes. In both cases the coronal rays were co-aligned with open magnetic-field lines given by the potential field source surface model, which expanded into the streamer. The solar-wind parameters measured by STEREO-B, ACE, Wind, and STEREO-A confirmed the identification of the ARCH as a source region of the slow solar wind. The results of the study support the suggestion that coronal rays can represent signatures of outflows from ARs propagating in the inner corona along open field lines into the heliosphere.
Published: 02 July 2013
We investigate the interaction of three consecutive large-scale coronal waves with a polar coronal hole, simultaneously observed on-disk by the Solar TErrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO)-A spacecraft and on the limb by the PRoject for On-Board Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) spacecraft on 27 January 2011. All three extreme ultraviolet (EUV) waves originate from the same active region, NOAA 11149, positioned at N30E15 in the STEREO-A field of view and on the limb in PROBA2. For the three primary EUV waves, we derive starting velocities in the range of approximately 310 km/s for the weakest up to approximately 500 km/s for the strongest event. Each large-scale wave is reflected at the border of the extended coronal hole at the southern polar region. The average velocities of the reflected waves are found to be smaller than the mean velocities of their associated direct waves. However, the kinematical study also reveals that in each case the ending velocity of the primary wave matches the initial velocity of the reflected wave. In all three events, the primary and reflected waves obey the Huygens-Fresnel principle, as the incident angle with approximately 10° to the normal is of the same magnitude as the angle of reflection. The correlation between the speed and the strength of the primary EUV waves, the homologous appearance of both the primary and the reflected waves, and in particular the EUV wave reflections themselves suggest that the observed EUV transients are indeed nonlinear large-amplitude MHD waves.
Published: 02 July 2013
Observations of the early rise and propagation phases of solar eruptive prominences can provide clues about the forces acting on them through the behavior of their acceleration with height. We have analyzed such an event, observed on 13 April 2010 by SWAP on PROBA2 and EUVI on STEREO. A feature at the top of the erupting prominence was identified and tracked in images from the three spacecraft. The triangulation technique was used to derive the true direction of propagation of this feature. The reconstructed points were fitted with two mathematical models: i) a power-law polynomial function and ii) a cubic smoothing spline, in order to derive the accelerations. The first model is characterized by five degrees of freedom while the second one is characterized by ten degrees of freedom. The results show that the acceleration increases smoothly, and it is continuously increasing with height. We conclude that the prominence is not accelerated immediately by local reconnection, but rather is swept away as part of a large-scale relaxation of the coronal magnetic field.
Published: 02 July 2013
The PROBA2 Science Centre (P2SC) is a small-scale science operations centre supporting the Sun observation instruments onboard PROBA2: the EUV imager Sun Watcher using APS detectors and image Processing (SWAP) and Large-Yield Radiometer (LYRA). PROBA2 is one of ESA's small, low-cost Projects for Onboard Autonomy (PROBA) and part of ESA's In-Orbit Technology Demonstration Programme. The P2SC is hosted at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, co-located with both Principal Investigator teams. The P2SC tasks cover science planning, instrument commanding, instrument monitoring, data processing, support of outreach activities, and distribution of science data products. PROBA missions aim for a high degree of autonomy at mission and system level, including the science operations centre. The autonomy and flexibility of the P2SC is reached by a set of web-based interfaces allowing the operators as well as the instrument teams to monitor quasi-continuously the status of the operations, allowing a quick reaction to solar events. In addition, several new concepts are implemented at instrument, spacecraft, and ground-segment levels allowing a high degree of flexibility in the operations of the instruments. This article explains the key concepts of the P2SC, emphasising the automation and the flexibility achieved in the commanding as well as the data-processing chain.
Published: 02 July 2013
The Sun Watcher with Active Pixels and Image Processing (SWAP) is an EUV solar telescope onboard ESA's Project for Onboard Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) mission launched on 2 November 2009. SWAP has a spectral bandpass centered on 17.4 nm and provides images of the low solar corona over a 54×54 arcmin field-of-view with 3.2 arcsec pixels and an imaging cadence of about two minutes. SWAP is designed to monitor all space-weather-relevant events and features in the low solar corona. Given the limited resources of the PROBA2 microsatellite, the SWAP telescope is designed with various innovative technologies, including an off-axis optical design and a CMOS-APS detector. This article provides reference documentation for users of the SWAP image data.
Published: 02 July 2013
The Sun Watcher with Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing (SWAP) telescope was launched on 2 November 2009 onboard the ESA PROBA2 technological mission and has acquired images of the solar corona every one to two minutes for more than two years. The most important technological developments included in SWAP are a radiation-resistant CMOS-APS detector and a novel onboard data-prioritization scheme. Although such detectors have been used previously in space, they have never been used for long-term scientific observations on orbit. Thus SWAP requires a careful calibration to guarantee the science return of the instrument. Since launch we have regularly monitored the evolution of SWAP's detector response in-flight to characterize both its performance and degradation over the course of the mission. These measurements are also used to reduce detector noise in calibrated images (by subtracting dark-current). Because accurate measurements of detector dark-current require large telescope off-points, we also monitored straylight levels in the instrument to ensure that these calibration measurements are not contaminated by residual signal from the Sun. Here we present the results of these tests and examine the variation of instrumental response and noise as a function of both time and temperature throughout the mission.
Published: 02 July 2013
Using soft X-ray measurements from detectors onboard the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and simultaneous high-cadence Lyman-± observations from the Large Yield Radiometer (LYRA) onboard the Project for On-Board Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) ESA spacecraft, we study the response of the lower part of the ionosphere, the D region, to seven moderate to medium-size solar flares that occurred in February and March of 2010. The ionospheric disturbances are analyzed by monitoring the resulting sub-ionospheric wave propagation anomalies detected by the South America Very Low Frequency (VLF) Network (SAVNET). We find that the ionospheric disturbances, which are characterized by changes of the VLF wave phase, do not depend on the presence of Lyman-A radiation excesses during the flares. Indeed, Lyman-A excesses associated with flares do not produce measurable phase changes. Our results are in agreement with what is expected in terms of forcing of the lower ionosphere by quiescent Lyman-A emission along the solar activity cycle. Therefore, while phase changes using the VLF technique may be a good indicator of quiescent Lyman-A variations along the solar cycle, they cannot be used to scale explosive Lyman-A emission during flares.
Published: 31 January 2013
Context. Solar tornados are dynamical, conspicuously helical magnetic structures that are mainly observed as a prominence activity. Aims. We investigate and propose a triggering mechanism for the solar tornado observed in a prominence cavity by SDO/AIA on September 25, 2011. Methods. High-cadence EUV images from the SDO/AIA and the Ahead spacecraft of STEREO/EUVI are used to correlate three flares in the neighbouring active-region (NOAA 11303) and their EUV waves with the dynamical developments of the tornado. The timings of the flares and EUV waves observed on-disk in 195 Å are analysed in relation to the tornado activities observed at the limb in 171 Å. Results. Each of the three flares and its related EUV wave occurred within ten hours of the onset of the tornado. They have an observed causal relationship with the commencement of activity in the prominence where the tornado develops. Tornado-like rotations along the side of the prominence start after the second flare. The prominence cavity expands with the accelerating tornado motion after the third flare. Conclusions. Flares in the neighbouring active region may have affected the cavity prominence system and triggered the solar tornado. A plausible mechanism is that the active-region coronal field contracted by the Hudson effect through the loss of magnetic energy as flares. Subsequently, the cavity expanded by its magnetic pressure to fill the surrounding low corona. We suggest that the tornado is the dynamical response of the helical prominence field to the cavity expansion.
Published: 07 January 2013
Formation and motion (at the initial stage) of six limb CMEs detected in the period June 2010 to June 2011 are investigated using the high-resolution data of the PROBA2 and SDO spacecraft combined with the data of SOHO/LASCO coronagraphs. It is demonstrated that several loop-like structures of enhanced brightness originate in the region of CME formation, and they move one after another with, as a rule, different velocities. These loop-like structures in the final analysis form the frontal structure of CME. Time dependences of the velocity and acceleration of the ejection's front are obtained for all CMEs under consideration. A conclusion is drawn about possible existence of two classes of CMEs depending on their velocity time profiles. Ejections, whose velocity after reaching its maximum sharply drops by a value of more than 100 km/s and then goes over into a regime of slow change, belong to the first class. Another class of CMEs is formed by ejections whose velocity changes slowly immediately after reaching the maximum. It is demonstrated that the CME's angular dimension increases at the initial stage of ejection motion up to a factor of 3 with a time scale of doubling the angular size value within the limits 3.5-11 min since the moment of the first measurement of this parameter of an ejection. For three CMEs it is shown that at the initial stage of their motion for a certain time interval they are stronger expanded than grow in the longitude direction.
Published: 01 January 2013
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