The Catholic University of America

Oct. 8, 2008

NASA Grant to Bolster CUA Research on Solar Storms

Seiji Yashiro, CUA research assistant professor of physics, received a three-year $188,600 NASA grant to study the sun's magnetic field, which is the source of phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

In particular, the grant will fund research on the helicity, or degree and type of twist, in the sun's magnetic field before, during and after such solar explosions.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections are huge solar explosions that can cast superheated gas and electromagnetically charged particles toward the Earth, where they can disrupt communications satellites and the earth's electrical power grids, in some cases knocking out electric power for millions of people.

The grant will allow the hiring of a post-doctoral researcher to carry out the research under Yashiro's direction.

"We believe that the twist of the sun's magnetic field is very important in creating solar storms," says Yashiro. "We carry out this research to understand the origin and nature of solar flares and coronal mass ejections - knowledge that could someday allow us to be able to predict when such solar explosions are about to occur."

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in Catholic University's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.