I suppose this applies to all solar events.

I know centuries ago they knew the quantity of these things fluxuated in solar cycles. Apart from that I know there has been advancement in solar weather forecasting but how accurate is it? Could, say ESA, have enough foreknowledge to launch a satellite or have one poised in solar orbit to 'go fishing' to investigate the emissions in someway? ?composition of particles- for example?

  • $\begingroup$ FYI. There is currently a new project by ESA to observe the sun from the (60 degree lagging) L5 Lagrange point. This will allow us to see sunspots, flares and CME's that occur on the far side of the sun, and thus (somewhat) increase the response time to potentially damaging solar events. $\endgroup$
    – not2qubit
    Sep 3, 2021 at 9:01

1 Answer 1


Old question; I hope you’re still active here…

Basically, we CAN’T predict coronal mass ejections in advance. See http://solar.physics.montana.edu/press/ssu_index.html

Other solar events, such as the number of sunspots, are somewhat predictable—not precisely, but at least have an idea about them. For example, sunspots follow a cycle of approximately 11 years. However, we don’t know before a cycle if it will be strong or not—our models are still too imprecise, though, like you wrote, there has been some advancement, but not much.

  • $\begingroup$ Why can't we predict coronal mass ejections in advance? Would you mind elaborating on your answer? $\endgroup$
    – Connor Garcia
    Nov 25, 2020 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ @ConnorGarcia: I’m afraid I don’t know solar physics well enough to answer your question, but the link I gave has some explanation, albeit not much… $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2020 at 3:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's similar to a boiling kettle of water. You can predict that steam will evaporate. But you cannot predict precisely enough where a rising bubble will burst on the surface - especially if you only see the surface. Or take our weather forecasts. We can predict it will rain. But if there is patchy rain... you cannot be sure but only give percentages, and we have WAY more weather satellites than solar. In the case of the Sun we also don't know well-enough the 3D structure of the magnetic field and the resistivity of the gas, both of which play a major role in CMEs $\endgroup$ Nov 25, 2020 at 13:16

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