A Support Facility for ROSA operations in the UK

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 instrumentation has not been able to observe the Sun at very high cadence due to telemetry restrictions. However, in 2006 we obtained funding from both the STFC and our host institute, Queen's University Belfast (QUB), to construct a state-of-the-art imager - Rapid Oscillations in the Solar Atmosphere (ROSA). This is a 6-CCD system capable of observing the Sun simultaneously in multiple wavebands at a cadence of up to 200 Hz. ROSA was successfully commissioned last year on the Dunn Solar Telescope (DST) at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) Sacramento Peak in the USA. It will shortly be delivered as a common-user instrument and be available on the DST for an initial 3-year period from Summer 2009. As part of our agreement with the NSO, the UK will receive a guaranteed minimum of 20 days per year observing time on the DST during this 3-year period. It is important that the UK solar physics community benefits from the STFC investment in ROSA, and fully exploits the guaranteed time allocation on the DST. ROSA provides both unprecedented time resolution (5 milliseconds) and spatial resolution, as we have developed image reconstruction techniques that allow extremely sharp images of the Sun to be obtained with ROSA on the DST. Indeed, we can resolve structures smaller than 100 km in size on the solar surface, which lies at a distance of 150 million km from Earth. This is equivalent to resolving an object less than 1 cm across which is 15 km away. Additionally, the multiple wavebands of ROSA permit up to 6 regions of the solar atmosphere to be observed simultaneously. Hence effectively the whole atmosphere from the low photosphere to the upper chromosphere can be observed and analysed as one coupled system. In particular, ROSA will allow the investigation of oscillatory and transitory phenomena at an unprecedented level of detail, either as a standalone instrument or in conjunction with STFC-supported satellite missions. In this proposal we seek modest STFC funding to establish a Support Facility for ROSA operations in the UK, to be based at QUB. This will provide support for all activities associated with ROSA observing programmes by the UK community, including (i) proposal preparation, (ii) observing support at the DST, (iii) data reduction, including the application of image reconstruction, (iv) development and maintenance of a ROSA archive.


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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 D (2012) THE ORIGIN OF TYPE I SPICULE OSCILLATIONS in The Astrophysical Journal

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Keys P (2013) Tracking magnetic bright point motions through the solar atmosphere in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Kuridze D (2011) Small-scale H a jets in the solar chromosphere in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Description No research undertaken on grant, only support provided to external users of the ROSA imager to obtain data.
Exploitation Route External users of ROSA continue to make use of the instrument, and its use has generated interest in using the ATST when it becomes available.
Sectors Education

Description Grant was to provide support to other groups to obtain solar data using ROSA imager. No research undertaken via the grant itself. Research undertaken by others should be reported via their grant reports (if funded by RCUK).
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural

Description UK-India Education and Research Initiative
Amount £48,900 (GBP)
Funding ID UGC -UKIERI -2017/18-014 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2020
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-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017
Description Links with W5 Discovery Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact An ongoing partnership with the W5 Discovery Centre in Belfast (Ireland's award-winning science and discovery centre). We developed the Planet Quest exhibition, based on explaining the multi-wavelength nature of modern astronomy. This includes spectacular infrared images from telescopes and satellites, information stands on the nature of infrared radiation, and hands on activities for children. It showcases high-profile Queen's astrophysics research to illustrate to the public that world-leading, technology-driven research is happening in Belfast. The exhibition initially ran March - September 2012, attracting 10,000 visitors, and we hope to run it again during the period 2014 - 2017. Astrophysics staff also host talks, Q&A sessions and hands-on building games in W5 (aimed at Key Stage 3 pupils), and further support W5 through the creation of astronomy CPD materials and a centralised web resource for secondary school physics teachers.

Increased interest in astronomy and science from schoolchildren.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
Description Michael West lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We have initiated a series of high-profile public lectures, The Michael West Lecture Series in Astronomy, following a philanthropic donation from Dr West which funds a Fellowship with a major outreach and education component. These lectures, which are scheduled typically twice per year, each attract 200 people, and are now the most widely attended public lecture series at Queen's University and indeed in Ireland as a whole.

Increased requests for e.g. school talks. Media interviews.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018
URL https://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/wiki/public/outreach/start
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-2006,2006,2007,2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018