ROSA: a synchronised, multi-camera, high-cadence solar imaging system

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Mathematics and Physics


Energy generated at the centre of the Sun by nuclear fusion flows out to the surface, and subsequently heats the various components of the atmosphere, including the photosphere, chromosphere and corona. The heating of the atmosphere often leads to rapid changes in the intensities of spectral lines which are formed in different atmospheric regions. Observing and modelling such rapid changes, which often take place on very short timescales (less than 1 second) are hence vital in order to properly understand energy outflow in the Sun and how the atmosphere is heated. Unfortunately however, there are few instruments capable of observing the Sun at sufficiently high cadence in order to reliably detect rapid changes in the atmosphere. In particular, satellite-based instrumention has not been able to observe the Sun at very high cadence due to telemetry restrictions. However, previously we have developed low-cost solar imaging systems, namely SECIS (Solar Eclipse Coronal Imaging System) and RDI (Rapid Dual Imager), which have been successfully used to obtain high cadence images of the solar atmosphere. Based on this success, we have been allocated £200,000 of SRIF3 funds by Queen's University Belfast (QUB) for the capital costs of ROSA (Rapid Oscillations in the Solar Atmosphere). This instrument will be able to image the Sun simultaneously in multiple wavebands at very high cadence (up to 200 Hz), and hence investigate oscillatory phenomena in the solar atmosphere at an unprecedented level of detail. In this proposal we seek funding for staff and other non-capital costs, required to allow us to construct ROSA. Once built and commissioned, ROSA will be available as a common-user instrument on the Dunn Solar Telescope (DST) at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) Sacramento Peak, and hence may be freely employed by the UK community for a range of programmes. The DST is the premier NSO facility for high resolution solar studies. We note that QUB will not receive Guranteed Time for ROSA programmes at NSO. However, for the first 3 years after ROSA is delivered as a common-user instrument, it has been agreed that NSO will reserve 20 days per year on the DST for proposals with a UK-based Principal Investigator. The observing time reserved for UK proposals will be for any instrument and will not be restricted to ROSA, and is aimed at developing and strengthening UK participation in the exploitation of the NSO instrumentation suite.


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Crockett P (2009) Automated detection and tracking of solar magnetic bright points in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Jess D (2008) Do All Flares Have White-Light Emission? in The Astrophysical Journal

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Jess D (2010) A STUDY OF MAGNETIC BRIGHT POINTS IN THE Na I D 1 LINE in The Astrophysical Journal

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Jess DB (2009) Alfvén waves in the lower solar atmosphere. in Science (New York, N.Y.)

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Keys P (2011) Chromospheric velocities of a C-class flare in Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Shelyag S (2010) A photospheric bright point model in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Description Developed the state-of-the-art ROSA high cadence solar imager.
Exploitation Route ROSA is now being used extensively by the worldwide solar physics community. It is also acting as a zero-generation instrument for the ATST solar telescope, currently being built in Hawaii.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education

Description Grant developed the ROSA imager which is now being used by worldwide community of solar physicists.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

Description Annual in-house activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Astronomy lectures and presentations are given at the following annual events: (i) QUB Horizons in Physics} (which attracts around 400 4th- and 5th-form students per year), (ii) Physics Open Days (around 200 6th-form students), (iii) Physics Teachers Conference (about 50 Physics teachers from schools in Ireland).

Increased take-up of Physics and Astronomy degree programme over last 3 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2014
Description School visits 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact All members of the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC) at Queen's University are involved in schools talks, covering their research topics as well as more general interests in astronomy. Most are at secondary level but also at primary (we actively take part in STEPS), either in the classroom or at Queen's. ARC staff deliver a total of about 40 talks/year to pupils, with typical class sizes of 25.

Hard to assess, but in Northern Ireland uptake of Physics at university level has increased steadily in recent years, in contrast to the UK trend.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014