EarthCube-funded Astrophysicists Use AI for Ten Year Study Regarding our Sun

Recently Published Study Provides Insight to Solar Corona Holes

A snapshot of the EarthCube-funded project web page ( for daily coronal hole maps, showing the coronal hole boundaries (green lines) automatically identified by an artificial intelligence technique known as neural network. The solar image was obtained in the extreme-ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on May 2, 2020. Credit: E. Illarionov, Moscow University

Alexander Kosovichev, a physics professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), in collaboration with Egor Illarionov of Moscow University and Andrey Tlatov of the Kislovodsk Solar Station, has published results of their most recent EarthCube-funded solar corona research in The Astrophysical Journal.

Entitled Machine-learning Approach to Identification of Coronal Holes in Solar Disk Images and Synoptic Maps, the study examined and analyzed solar synoptic maps for 2010 through 2020. Because these specialized maps encompassed a daily view at a specific time, for ten years, the calculations were completed using machine learning. An emerging area of artificial intelligence, the researchers’ machine learning approach included an array of algorithms to efficiently analyze the collected data.

Thanks to machine learning, the team discovered that many coronal holes over the decade were associated with magnetic flux transport events. However, they also found that additional factors played a role in the formation and evolution of coronal holes.

“These investigations were important because larger coronal holes result in hefty solar wind speeds,” explained Kosovichev. “In turn, this causes adverse space weather conditions that negatively impact satellite and power distribution grids as well as other infrastructure in our own atmosphere.”

“The automatic real-time identification of coronal holes by the machine learning techniques will enhance the operational space weather forecasts,” continued Kosovichev.

While Kosovichev and his team shed some light on coronal holes, he said that more research is needed for further understanding. He and a team of researchers at the NJIT Center for Computational Heliophysics are now working to develop tools to further extract and analyze existing spacecraft and ground-based data for specific insight to the corona.

“Although this published study gave us a glimpse at ten years of the solar corona, we now want to reach farther for even more knowledge,” Kosovichev said. “Thanks to EarthCube funding, we are able to do just that and look forward to sharing additional insight soon.”

This research was funded by NSF (1639683).

About EarthCube

EarthCube is a community-driven activity sponsored by the National Science Foundation to transform research in the academic geosciences community. EarthCube aims to create a well-connected environment to share data and knowledge in an open, transparent, and inclusive manner, thus accelerating our ability to better understand and predict the Earth’s systems. EarthCube membership is free and open to anyone in the Geosciences, as well as those building platforms to serve the Earth Sciences. The EarthCube Office is led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) on the UC San Diego campus. 


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