Washington: A study has confirmed that collisions of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), emissions of magnetized ionized gas from the Sun, can be super-elastic.
CMEs can damage satellites and communication technology, so being able to predict where they are heading and how much energy they have is important in protecting this technology.
Sometimes two CMEs collide and bounce off each other like elastic balls, changing their directions and speeds. It has been suggested that in some cases the collisions can even be super-elastic, which means that the total kinetic energy of the two colliding CMEs actually increases after the collision as some of the thermal or magnetic energy in the CMEs is converted to kinetic energy.
However, the super-elastic nature of these collisions had not been confirmed until now.
Fang Shen, Xueshang Feng, and Changqing Xiang: SIGMA Weather Group, State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing, China and others conducted three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations based on an observed collision of two CMEs in 2008.
They compared a simulated non-collision case with a simulated collision case and find that the collision between CMEs does undergo a super-elastic process.
The kinetic energy gained in the collision was about 3 to 4 percent, which closely matches observations.
Other researchers include Chenglong Shen and Yuming Wang: CAS Key Laboratory of Geospace Environment, Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, China.