Nordita program on Solar Helicities brought together observers, modelers and theorists

Understanding the Sun to the extent that we can predict how its magnetic field drives space weather and climate is an extremely challenging but important problem for the present-day, increasingly hi-tech, society. Key variables in this process are solar helicities, broadly speaking meaning twist of velocity or magnetic field. Magnetic helicity, for example, can be linked to the eruptibility of active regions. Research on helicities is a combination of observational efforts dealing with massive amounts of data, computational research building models on how the magnetic fields are generated and transformed into helical active regions, and theoretical studies of magnetic helicity and reconnection.

The Solar helicities program was organised in Stockholm, NORDITA, in March 2019. The first week of the month-long program took the form of a kick-off focus event, bringing together nearly 60 participants. The work continued for three weeks more in dedicated working groups, on topics formulated during the focus event. These topics included the role and importance and evolution of helicities in natural systems, observations and measurements of helicities, magnetic dynamos, their connection to helicities, and their modeling, and helicities and space weather.

With HIIT support, computer science and space technology students could participate in this work, providing them a unique opportunity to apply their methods on scientifically and societally significant data sets, and at the same time obtain guidance from the international experts that design and conduct the space missions and those that carry out the modeling tasks.