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The visual complexity of coronal mass ejections follows the solar cycle

Jones, S. R. ORCID:, Scott, C. J., ORCID:, Barnard, L. A. ORCID:, Highfield, R. ORCID:, Lintott, C. J. ORCID: and Baeten, E. ORCID: (2020) The visual complexity of coronal mass ejections follows the solar cycle. Space Weather, 18 (10). e2020SW002556. ISSN 1542-7390

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2020SW002556


The Heliospheric Imagers on board National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s twin STEREO spacecraft show that coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can be visually complex structures. To explore this complexity, we created a citizen science project with the U.K. Science Museum, in which participants were shown pairs of CME images and asked to decide which image in each pair appeared the most “complicated.” A Bradley‐Terry model was then applied to these data to rank the CMEs by their “complicatedness,” or “visual complexity.” This complexity ranking revealed that the annual average visual complexity values follow the solar activity cycle, with a higher level of complexity being observed at the peak of the cycle. The average complexity of CMEs observed by STEREO‐A was also found to be significantly higher than those observed by STEREO‐B. Visual complexity was found to be associated with CME size and brightness, but our results suggest that complexity may be influenced by the scale‐sizes of structure in the CMEs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:93290
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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