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Life and DEFT: Space Weather Preparedness

Published onAug 18, 2020
Life and DEFT: Space Weather Preparedness

Solar flares, caused by magnetic disruptions in the Sun’s corona, can generate significant space weather hazards near Earth. Solar flares produce strong X-rays and energetic particles that can cause radio blackouts and penetrate satellite electronics, potentially causing electrical failures. Currently, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) needs a continuously increasing X-ray flux that surpasses an alert threshold to issue a warning. This warning is intended to prepare our society for the effects of flares. The current leading forecasting method has the disadvantage of an inherent delay, furthermore, it is unable to locate the origin of the flare without the input of a forecaster. The Detection and EUV Flare Tracking (DEFT) tool is a new solar flare identification method that can detect main stage flares and early EUV precursor signatures. DEFT uses the GOES-R Solar UltraViolet Imager (SUVI) for near-realtime, high spatial and temporal resolution observations in 6 different wavelengths. DEFT primarily uses the 304 Å wavelength to identify flare signatures. At present, DEFT can semi-automatically identify main stage and precursor flare signatures. Using data from 2017, precursor signatures were found for 81% of the flares. On average, the precursors were detected 32 minutes before the flare occurred. Using DEFT, our goal is to identify flare and precursor signatures up to an hour in advance and forecast the magnitude of the flare. We hope to carry out this goal by fully automating DEFT, minimizing false detections, and continuing to expand the flare detection database to increase accuracy.

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