sunblue

Research in Solar System Physics

SOLAR SURFACE:
 eruption_nasa On the surface of the sun, energy can be suddenly released in a process called a solar flare. Solar flares have been associated with magnetic reconnection. They can produce solar storms and influence space weather. Our goals in this area include:

  • observations at different heights in the solar atmosphere (Jefferies)
  • development of data mining techniques to predict solar flares and solar eruptions (Martens)
  • analyzing and modeling solar filaments (Martens)
  • modeling coronal loops (Martens)
  • modeling and simulation of magnetic reconnection (Pratt)
SOLAR WIND, SPACE WEATHER, AND SPACE CLIMATE:
 solarwind Plasma ejected from a star escapes the gravity field to produce a stellar wind. Stellar winds, including the solar wind, stream away from the star at high velocities and interact with energetic particles. The solar wind is a key driver for the space weather and space climate that affects Earth. Our activities in this area include:

  • improving observations of space weather (Jefferies)
  • predicting space weather based on cutting-edge analysis of observational data (Martens)
  • modeling and simulating solar wind turbulence (Pratt)
STELLAR INTERIORS AND STELLAR EVOLUTION:
 youngsun Plasma flows in the deep interior of stars produce magnetic fields via the dynamo mechanism. Nonlinear plasma phenonmena in the stellar interior can profoundly affect the evolution and internal structure of a star during different phases of its life. Plasma phenomena require sophisticated modeling and massive multidimensional simulations in order to provide clear interpretion and new models for observational data. We study:

  • large-scale convection and the dynamo (Martens, Pratt)
  • The Faint Young Sun Paradox (Martens)
  • rotation, shear, chemical mixing (Pratt)
  • accretion and mass-loss (Pratt)
  • one-dimensional stellar evolution modeling (Pratt)
HELIOSEISMOLOGY AND ASTROSEISMOLOGY:
 jeffriesslide3 Oscillation of waves in the sun can be used to infer its internal structure, an area called helioseismology. Recent surveys targeted toward exo-planets have produced a wealth of new data on waves of other stars, an area called astroseismology. Our goals in this area include:

  • building ground- and space-based instrumentation for seismology of the Sun and giant planets (Jefferies)
  • producing and analyzing seismological data from the sun (Jefferies)
  • seismology of giant planets (Jefferies)
  • analyzing, interpreting, and comparing with astroseismology data (Jefferies, Pratt)
ASTROINFORMATICS:
Astroinformatics is the use of computational methods for data analysis and simulation to approach problems in astrophysics.