Launch of Citizen Science Project "Solar Active Region Spotters" Sheds Light on Long-Lived Coronal Structures

A new Zooniverse citizen science project titled "Solar Active Region Spotters" debuts today, led by Predictive Science's Emily Mason and intern Midshipman Kara Kniezewski of the United States Naval Academy. Supported by a NASA Citizen Science Seed Funding grant, the project asks volunteers to collectively identify long-lived active regions in nearly a decade's worth of magnetic and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) emission data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Volunteers are shown a set of images of a pair of active regions, and answer four simple questions to determine whether the pair is likely to be the same region.

Active regions are large concentrations of magnetic field on the Sun; they appear as large bipolar regions in magnetic field maps, and as regions of high emission in the EUV. These regions are tracked and numbered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but if they survive for longer than a single rotation, they are given a new number.

"This re-numbering presents a challenge for researchers, who have to expend a lot of effort determining the identity of each active region for long-term studies," said Mason. "The volunteers will help us build a widely-shared database of linked NOAA numbers, enabling new discoveries through crowdsourcing and data sharing." Mason is also leading a study of coronal heating in long-lived active regions as part of this project.

Active regions are home to many dramatic phenomena, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can have effects on the Earth and other planets. They are also a source of interest for studying coronal heating, the mechanism or mechanisms that power the counterintuitively super-heated solar atmosphere.

Predictive Science is an employee-owned company founded in 2008 that delivers state-of-the-art scientific solutions. Our research programs focus on models and investigations of the Sun's corona and heliosphere, in an effort to answer fundamental scientific questions about the physics of the Sun.

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