Major solar flares (M-class or greater) and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), are major drivers of space weather (movie). Forecasting the chance of these occurring, and where on the Sun they will occur is important. MAG4 is an automated forecasting tool that can be used as an input to a space weather forecaster’s forecast. It is based on the fact that flares and associate CMEs are powered by converting energy stored in the coronal magnetic field into flares and CMEs by magnetic reconnection. The exact method is still an area of physical research with various theories, but the leading theories all start with very nonpotential coronal magnetic field. MAG4 uses a free-energy proxy that can be measured from solar magnetograms (maps of the solar magnetic fields), combined with empirically derived forecast curves, to predict event rates for the next 24 hours (CCMC MAG4), new forecasts are made every 24 hours.
MAG4 is a Research-to-Operation (R2O) project, and we are continually improving MAG4 forecasts.