Consolidated Solar Research at UCLan

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Jeremiah Horrocks Institute

Abstract

This consolidated grant proposal brings together solar physics research within the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). We will undertake investigations to study the processes that lead to eruptions in the Sun's atmosphere, and how energetic particle released during these eruptions are transported from the Sun to the Earth and beyond into interplanetary space.

The motion of sunspots in the Sun's photosphere can inject energy into the atmospheric magnetic field. We will study the rotation of sunspots by developing an algorithm to automatically detect and analyse rotating sunspots. This will be used to understand what causes them to rotate, and to determine to what extent rotating sunspots lead to solar flares and eruptions.

These solar eruptions release energetic particles into the heliosphere. We will simulate the motions of these solar energetic particles (SEPs) in order to study SEP transport from the Sun to the Earth. This will link into a study of the relation between solar eruptive events and SEP transport, which in turn will allow us to make more accurate predictions of space weather effects on the Earth.

Planned Impact

Please refer to the full UCLan proposal (ref ST/M000877/1) for further details.

Publications

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Dalla S (2016) A pioneer of solar astronomy in Astronomy & Geophysics

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Dalla S (2018) Application of Test Particle Simulations to Solar Energetic Particle Forecasting in Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

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Laitinen T (2018) Forecasting Solar Energetic Particle Fluence with Multi-Spacecraft Observations in Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

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Swalwell B (2018) Forecasting Solar Energetic Particle Events and Associated False Alarms in Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

 
Description The award funded two projects, project number 2, "Solar energetic particles in heliospheric turbulence and structures" and project number 4, "Automatic identification and statistical studies of rotating sunspots".

For project 2, a new model to simulate the transport of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) through the heliosphere was developed: it includes the effects of magnetic field line meandering via a Fokker-Planck approach. The results of the simulations reproduce the observed longitudinal extent of SEP peak fluxes and the timing of SEP arrival at distant longitudes. The effect of magnetic turbulence early in the event was shown to be non-diffusive.

The effect of magnetic field line meandering on SEP observables at 1 AU was characterised: it was found that for a variety of configurations it produces extensive energetic particle clouds filling large regions of the heliosphere. When this effect is ignored a much smaller region of space is affected by SEP radiation.

For project 4, the key outcome of the project was the creation of a semi-automatic algorithm for measuring the rotation of sunspots (as outlined in Brown and Walker, 2021). Identification of a sunspot (specifically the list of observations it is contained within and a reasonable guess for the centre of the sunspot in the first observation) is still performed manually, but the extraction of the rotation profiles for the sunspot is fully automatic. The sunspot profiles used to develop and test this algorithm have been made available on UCLan's OpenData platform.

This has allowed a sample of 135 sunspots contained in 64 active regions to be constructed (in the PhD thesis of Walker, 2018). Furthermore, for each active region, estimates for the energy injected into the solar atmosphere due to sunspot rotation and estimates of the energy expelled from the region due to solar eruption have been produced which show that sunspot rotation is an important provider of energy needed for large solar eruptions. It is anticipated that this work will be published in peer-reviewed journals, at which time the database of rotation profiles will be made available through UCLan's OpenData platform.
Exploitation Route For project 2, results of the work may be used to answer further scientific questions on the propagation of particles in turbulent magnetic fields.

Results on the role of magnetic field line meandering may be incorporated into models for Space Weather predictions of SEPs.

For project 4, the lead investigator has two PhD students, one of whom is carrying out numerical simulations to better understand how energy is transfered by the sunspot rotation and is stored in the atmospheric magnetic field in readiness for solar eruption, and the other student is looking at how to make the semi-automatic code produced in this project fully automatic, allowing larger statistical samples to answer questions relating to sunspot eruption and to be made available to the scientific community for further analysis.
Sectors Other

URL http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/wayward-field-lines-challenge-solar-radiation-models
 
Description The work on SEP propagation has had an impact on stakeholders responsible for the study of Space Weather, in particular SEP forecasting. In the UK the Met Office has responsibility for Space Weather and our research group has been involved in meetings and projects with Met Office, with the aim of incorporating scientific understanding into forecasting tools. In particular the research funded by this grant has contributed to us taking part in the SWIMMR programme with the aim of providing tools for forecasting SEP radiation risks to aviation.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Other
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description NASA HSR NNH16ZDA001N-HSR for Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science - 2016 (ROSES-2016)
Amount $250,000 (USD)
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 03/2017 
End 02/2019
 
Title Sunspot rotation data: test regions 
Description These files contain calculated sunspot torsional rotation profiles for 5 active regions (and 6 sunspots) measured from data acquired by the HMI instrument on NASA's Solar Dynamics Orbiter. Other ancillary data produced as part of the calculations (such as uncertainties, umbral areas, sunspot position, and so on) are also included with the profiles. The five regions were used as testing and development data for validating the approach of Brown and Walker. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Too early to determine. 
URL https://uclandata.uclan.ac.uk/214/
 
Description Dr Georgia De Nolfo, NASA Goodard Space Flight Center 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Dr Georgia De Nolfo visited us for a week in January 2018 to work on comparing PAMELA spacecraft data with our simulations of SEP propagation. This collaboration is ongoing.
Collaborator Contribution 3D test particle simulations of relativistic protons during flare/CME events.
Impact Conference presentation at SHINE Meeting 2018 and at ICRC 2019. Two refereed journal papers currently in preparation.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Frederic Effenberger/NASA 
Organisation Bay Area Environmental Research Institute
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Two collaborators in the institutes were co-authors of publications in 2015-2017. Frederic Effenberger secured a NASA grant in 2017 funding a young researcher. Timo Laitinen is an unpaid Co-investigator in the NASA grant, and can fund the team members' visits to USA (such visits haven't taken place yet).
Collaborator Contribution The partner participated in research, and the young researcher hired by the NASA grant is advancing the research, with publications foreseen.
Impact T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. Marsh. Transport of Solar Energetic Particles across the Parker field due to field line meandering. In 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC2015), volume 34 of International Cosmic Ray Conference, page 191, July 2015.; T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. S. Marsh. Solar energetic particle access to distant longitudes through turbulent field-line meandering. A&A, 591:A18, June 2016.; Laitinen, Timo, Effenberger, Frederic, Kopp, Andreas, and Dalla, Silvia. The effect of turbulence strength on meandering field lines and solar energetic particle event extents. J. Space Weather Space Clim., 8:A13, 2018.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Frederic Effenberger/NASA 
Organisation Ruhr University Bochum
Department Faculty of Physics and Astronomy
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Two collaborators in the institutes were co-authors of publications in 2015-2017. Frederic Effenberger secured a NASA grant in 2017 funding a young researcher. Timo Laitinen is an unpaid Co-investigator in the NASA grant, and can fund the team members' visits to USA (such visits haven't taken place yet).
Collaborator Contribution The partner participated in research, and the young researcher hired by the NASA grant is advancing the research, with publications foreseen.
Impact T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. Marsh. Transport of Solar Energetic Particles across the Parker field due to field line meandering. In 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC2015), volume 34 of International Cosmic Ray Conference, page 191, July 2015.; T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. S. Marsh. Solar energetic particle access to distant longitudes through turbulent field-line meandering. A&A, 591:A18, June 2016.; Laitinen, Timo, Effenberger, Frederic, Kopp, Andreas, and Dalla, Silvia. The effect of turbulence strength on meandering field lines and solar energetic particle event extents. J. Space Weather Space Clim., 8:A13, 2018.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Frederic Effenberger/NASA 
Organisation University of Kiel
Department Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Two collaborators in the institutes were co-authors of publications in 2015-2017. Frederic Effenberger secured a NASA grant in 2017 funding a young researcher. Timo Laitinen is an unpaid Co-investigator in the NASA grant, and can fund the team members' visits to USA (such visits haven't taken place yet).
Collaborator Contribution The partner participated in research, and the young researcher hired by the NASA grant is advancing the research, with publications foreseen.
Impact T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. Marsh. Transport of Solar Energetic Particles across the Parker field due to field line meandering. In 34th International Cosmic Ray Conference (ICRC2015), volume 34 of International Cosmic Ray Conference, page 191, July 2015.; T. Laitinen, A. Kopp, F. Effenberger, S. Dalla, and M. S. Marsh. Solar energetic particle access to distant longitudes through turbulent field-line meandering. A&A, 591:A18, June 2016.; Laitinen, Timo, Effenberger, Frederic, Kopp, Andreas, and Dalla, Silvia. The effect of turbulence strength on meandering field lines and solar energetic particle event extents. J. Space Weather Space Clim., 8:A13, 2018.
Start Year 2013
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Department German Research Centre for Geosciences
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation North-West University
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation Observatory of Paris
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation Stanford University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation University of Alabama in Huntsville
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation University of Kiel
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation University of Minnesota
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ISSI Team on Flares and SEPs, 6-6-2018 
Organisation Western Kentucky University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Timo Laitinen was invited to be part of this Team funded by the International Space Science Institute (ISSI, Bern, Switzerland) to hold a series of research meetings. The team is researching "Solar flare acceleration signatures and their connection to solar energetic particles".
Collaborator Contribution Participation to meetings and associated research. Scientific presentation at meeting
Impact It is expected that scientific publications will be outcome of this activity in future.
Start Year 2018