UNDERSTANDING THE DYNAMICAL SOLAR ATMOSPHERE

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics

Abstract

Within this proposal we aim to study various aspects related to dynamical processes that frequently occur in the solar atmosphere, and that are still not understood.
Solar physics is now experiencing a golden age in terms of observations of the outer atmosphere of our star.
In the past few years, a suite of space missions has been launched to observe the solar atmosphere in great detail.
An upcoming mission, Solar Orbiter, is a major ESA satellite to be launched in 2018 and devoted to the study of the inner parts of the heliosphere, the bubble where our solar system resides that is constantly modified by events on the Sun. Some of these events have relevance to space weather, i.e. affect significantly the outer layers of the Earth atmosphere, causing significant effects on satellites, human space flight and communication, for example.

Solar flares are massive releases of energy into the heliosphere in a short period of time. It is thought that magnetic reconnection is the main physical effect. We aim to measure, using current satellites, the observational signatures of the flare supra-arcade, a region where strong heating (to more than ten million degrees) occurs. We will investigate the physical processes at play in this region with large-scale 3-D numerical simulations. We will study how instabilities in the solar-flare reconnection region can produce supra-arcade downflows, and compare the results of the simulations with observations.

We also aim to study the solar transition region, a thin layer of the atmosphere between the photosphere and corona of the Sun. This region is very dynamic, and we aim to study, with improvements in the models, if non-equilibrium effects can explain the strong emission that is coming from this layer and is observed by current missions. We will also study the importance of non-equilibrium effects in interpreting the observations of one of the Solar Orbiter instruments (SPICE), that will observe the solar transition region.

We shall also study the dynamics of the high-temperature emission in solar active regions with a new-generation X-ray instrument, MaGIXS, which will be flown in 2018 on a sounding rocket. MaGIXS will provide novel measurements that will help us to understand which physical processes are responsible in heating the active region plasma to 3 million degrees, an issue that has been much debated over the past 40 years.

We also aim to continue to provide the most fundamental atomic data for the interpretation of the observations of current and future solar missions. Our group has been leading this field by continuously updating the CHIANTI atomic database, now also widely used for astrophysical applications.

Finally, we shall communicate our work to the public and to schools, in particular through the Sun|trek project.

Planned Impact

The potential impact of this proposal can be divided into two sections: Societal and Economic.

On the societal side, the extensive public engagement program that the investigators propose through the Sun|trek project (a key part of our Outreach proposal) and the public lectures that the investigators are involved in, the importance of understanding solar flares and space weather, and the role of future solar missions (e.g. Solar Orbiter) in understanding the plasma properties of the Sun could reach a general audience of thousands. Through the activities of the investigators at open days and in local schools, we will explain to young students how mathematics and physics can be used to understand space weather and its relation to space travel, helping to make the next generation more scientifically aware and potentially inspiring future scientists.

The economic impacts to industry of space weather should not be underestimated, and we are working with the knowledge transfer officer at DAMTP and with BAS to deepen our connections with potential interested parties. The industrial importance of atomic data, with its role in developing fusion and in the development of new light sources, makes it a key impact area. Through the continued development of free online resources that include the latest atomic calculations, these calculations will be available to all interested parties.

Publications

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Allison Hayley J. (2018) Determination of the Equatorial Electron Differential Flux From Observations at Low Earth Orbit in Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics)

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Cernok A (2019) Shockinduced microtextures in lunar apatite and merrillite in Meteoritics & Planetary Science

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Del Zanna G (2018) Solar Coronal Lines in the Visible and Infrared: A Rough Guide in The Astrophysical Journal

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Del Zanna G. (2019) Uncertainties on atomic data. A case study: N IV in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Del Zanna Giulio (2018) Solar UV and X-ray spectral diagnostics in Living Reviews in Solar Physics

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Del Zanna Giulio (2018) Solar UV and X-ray spectral diagnostics in Living Reviews in Solar Physics

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Del Zanna Giulio (2018) Predicting the COSIE-C Signal from the Outer Corona up to 3 Solar Radii in The Astrophysical Journal

 
Title Creative Reactions 
Description Creative Reactions links scientists and artists. HEM was linked with Maria Merridan, a Cambridge based artist, who produced some beautiful artwork based on the science of the Sun. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Visual representation of solar science, which reached artistic and scientific audiences. 
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/creativereactions/
 
Description Consolidated grant
Amount £248,560 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/P000665/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2020
 
Title CHIANTI - Atomic Database 
Description CHIANTI is an atomic database developed by the Atomic Astrophysics research group at DAMTP, funded by STFC. It is now universally used by the solar physics community for the analysis of solar spectra, and is also widely used in the astrophysical community. Giulio Del Zanna is a key member of the CHIANTI team, and has led several CHIANTI papers and releases. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact CHIANTI has facilitated the analysis of solar spectra leading to over 3350 citations. 
URL http://www.chiantidatabase.org/
 
Title CHIANTI Atomic Database 
Description CHIANTI is an atomic database for the analysis of UV and X-ray spectra from the Sun and other astrophysical objects. First launched in 1996, it is regularly updated by the CHIANTI team, of which Helen Mason and Giulio De Zanna are key members. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The CHIANTI database is universally used for the analysis of solar UV and X-ray spectra from Space Observatories. The number of citations is close to 3000. It has been incorporated into other modelling databases which are used for astrophysics application and fusion research work. 
URL http://www.chiantidatabase.org/
 
Description Associate Scientist on NASA's IRIS project 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration has resulted in several joint research papers.
Collaborator Contribution Joint research papers.
Impact Research papers
Start Year 2016
 
Description Associated scientist with CfA on various missions/proposals 
Organisation Harvard University
Department Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contribute to various proposals for space missions (COSIE, MAGIXS), to the analysis of current missions (IRIS). Also contributed to AIRSPEC, an new infrared spectrometer, and DKIST, a ground-based solar telescope.
Collaborator Contribution Provide access to data and resources.
Impact Various research papers.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Co-I of Hinode EIS team 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Over the years we have contributed to the Hinode EIS team in proposing observations, providing atomic data, instrument calibration, and helping young researchers into the use of the instrument.
Collaborator Contribution This is a large international collaboration. MSSL is the leading institute that has provided most of the hardware.
Impact A large number of papers and conferences.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Co-I of Solar Orbiter instruments 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Department RAL Space
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I am co-I of the Solar Orbiter SPICE and EUI. I am . associated scientist of the SOlar Orbiter METIS instrument. I am contributing in refining the best science, calibration and operating modes.
Collaborator Contribution Building instruments, calibration, on-board software
Impact Most of the outcomes will come in the future. A few papers are in progress.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Co-I of Solar Orbiter instruments 
Organisation University College London
Department Department of Space and Climate Physics (MSSL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am co-I of the Solar Orbiter SPICE and EUI. I am . associated scientist of the SOlar Orbiter METIS instrument. I am contributing in refining the best science, calibration and operating modes.
Collaborator Contribution Building instruments, calibration, on-board software
Impact Most of the outcomes will come in the future. A few papers are in progress.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Collaboration with BAS on space weather 
Organisation British Antarctic Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution From 2014, I have established a collaboration with the BAS group led by Prof. R. Horne on space weather. We have co-supervised one student on interaction of solar events with the electron belt, and now are co-supervising another student on the effects of solar particle storms on the proton belt, and consequences on satellite performance.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have contributed with the BAS model of the electron belt and access to satellite data.
Impact Several papers and presentations at conferences.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Collaboration with Dr. Dudik on Non-Maxwellians 
Organisation Astronomical Institute Czech Republic
Country Czech Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have an ongoing collaboration with Dr J. Dudik (Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences), a former RS Newton International Fellow at DAMTP (2013--2015), on developing modelling to search for spectroscopic signatures of non-Maxwellian electrons in the solar corona. We have provided the atomic data, mostly from the results of the APAP grants, and knowledge of spectral observations.
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Dudik has contributed in coordinating new observations and writing scientific papers.
Impact Several scientific papers have been published, and others are forthcoming.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with PRL, India 
Organisation Physical Research Laboratory
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The contributions will be on the analysis and atomic data for the upcoming Indian space X-ray spectrometer, to be launched in 2018.
Collaborator Contribution Provide access to the observations.
Impact not yet.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Ely Cathedral - SunSpaceArt workshops 
Organisation Diocese of Ely
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Have run SunSpaceArt 'family drop-in' sessions annually at the Ely Cathedral Science Festivals
Collaborator Contribution Providing the venue and facilities.
Impact Reaching approximately 200 family members.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Get Space 
Organisation Spacelink Learning Foundation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Participation in the annual Get Space workshops for school children organised by SpaceLink. Giving talks and running SunSpaceArt workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitating the Get Space Workshops.
Impact Worked with over 200 children and 20 teachers. The feedback has been superb. 'I found the day amazing. I love science even more now', 'I enjoyed it very much and it was inspiring'. We distributed around 50 STFC leaflets.
Start Year 2017
 
Description ISSI team meeting (2015-2018) on uncertainties in atomic data 
Organisation United States Naval Research Laboratory
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This is an international collaboration among different institutes. Del Zanna contributed atomic data and diagnostics, and developed a model to calculate uncertainties for Fe XIII.
Collaborator Contribution Other partners contributed on data analysis and statistical analysis.
Impact A scientific paper is submitted and one is in preparation.
Start Year 2015
 
Description ISSI team meeting (2018-2019) on solar abundances - Solar Orbiter 
Organisation University of Orsay
Department Space Astrophysics Institute
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is an international collaboration with several researchers/institutes, to study how to link in-situ with remote-sensing observations with Solar Orbiter. I contributed in terms of atomic data, diagnostics, and a specific project on active regions.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner will contribute on the basis of their expertise.
Impact The collaboration only started.
Start Year 2018
 
Description RAL Space - school workshops 
Organisation Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Department RAL Space
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The SunSpaceArt team have run workshops for school children and Continued Professional Development sessions for teachers at RAL Space.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitiation of these activities (admin, venue, refreshments) plus participation by Alessandra Giunta, Solar Orbiter team at RAL Space.
Impact Workshops for over 70 primary school children and 10 teachers.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Royal Observatory Greenwich 
Organisation Royal Observatory Greenwich
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Participation in a number of activities aimed at the public and school children, talks about the Sun and STFC funded solar research.
Collaborator Contribution Facilitating these activities, making a video for social media.
Impact Reaching around 300 members of the public and students.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Science Museum - the Sun 
Organisation Science Museum Group
Department The Science Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The SunSpaceArt team have been running many activities associated with 'The Sun - Living with a Star' exhibition at the Science Museum London.
Collaborator Contribution The Science Museum have been very keen on our participation and facilitated this, also provided art resources.
Impact We have participated in: Panel discussion associated with the '8 Mins' performance on the opening evening (200 members of the public), running SunSpaceArt activities at the 'Family Sun Festivals' held in Nov 2018 (300 family members) and March 2019 (500 family members), the Lates in November 2018 (300 adults) and the 'Night Owls' (50 families with autistic youths). We have enriched the exhibition with STFC funded solar science information (eg about solar space projects, including Solar Orbiter) and the distribution of 500 STFC leaflets. In total, we have worked with over 1300 children, families and young adults, informing them about the Sun and solar research, making creative art. We have distributed over 500 STFC leaflets on the Sun and Moon. The feedback has been exceptional for all these events. 'Fantastic workshop, very informative' (parent). We have been contacted by people who attended for more information about the STFC funded SunSpaceArt project.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Cambridge Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of the Atomic Astrophysics Group, in particular Helen Mason and Giulio Del Zanna, with post-docs and graduate students, regularly participate in the Biennial Open Day at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge. They showcase their STFC funded solar research activities and handed out information about STFC science, including around 100 STFC leaflets. This event is always very popular and the number of people reached is thousands. The team engage individuals, both adults and children, with posters, discussions, videos and interactive activities. The people expressed their thanks and appreciation of this outreach activity. The public report an interest in the topic and an increase in their knowledge about solar space research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2017,2019
 
Description Cambridge Science Festival and Festival of Ideas - Public Lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Helen Mason gave Public Lectures on Solar Space Science at the Cambridge Science Festival and the Festival of Ideas
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://queen-ediths.info/event/cambridge-science-festival-2017-dynamic-sun/
 
Description HEM promoting solar science on social media - twitter and facebook 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact HEM has very active Twitter and Facebook sites reaching thousands. Posts about space science, astronomy, NASA, ESA, STFC, school activities, Women in STEM, science and art etc. People oftne share or retweet posts about solar science or SunSpaceArt workshops. They express interest and share with others. STFC often shares HEM's posts. Connections are made with teachers, who request more information or school workshops. People often express an increase in their knowledge about the Sun and space.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019
URL https://twitter.com/helen_hm11
 
Description One of NASA's solar experts for the 2017 Total Eclipse of the Sun 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Helen Mason was NASA's solar expert and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the 2017 Total Eclipse of the Sun. This involved participating in the eclipse activities, giving a talk, running workshops, being on TV - NASA 360, and other TV channels, in the press etc. Through this event, she reached thousands of members of the general public in the USA and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/tennessee/2017/07/12/astronaut-cambridge-professor-among-s...
 
Description Public lectures and talks at schools by Helen Mason 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Helen Mason has given over 30 talks to schools and public lectures in the past 30 months. These have been to students of all ages, primary, secondary, sixth formers, undergraduates and post-graduates. In addition there have been talks to Astronomy Clubs, branches of the IoP, Women in Science Events, Science Festivals, Solar Sphere Festival, at the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Observatory Greenwich. She has reached well over 1000 people. The feedback has been very good, leading to further requests for talks. She has distributed information about STFC science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description RAL - 14th Appleton Space Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk about the STFC funded SunSpaceArt project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ralspace.stfc.ac.uk/Pages/14th-Appleton-Space-Conference.aspx
 
Description Science Museum - The Sun Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The SunSpaceArt team have engaged with several events and activities related to 'the Sun - Living with our Star' exhibition at the Science Museum, London (a Panel discission for 8Mins dance, 5 Oct. 2018, Family Sun Festivals, 3 & 4 Nov., 2018, 2 & 3 March 2019, the Lates, 28 Nov. 2018, the 'Night Owls', 8 Dec. 2018. The team engaged with over 1300 people, adults and children, the participants stayed on average 30mins doing SunSpaceArt activities. The team answered many questions about solar research, and gave out over 500 STFC leaflets. The feedback from individuals and the Science museum has been exceptional. The team have been invited back to the Science Museum for other events. They have also subsequently been contacted by school teachers and other individuals seeking further information. The SunSpaceArt team also invited two younger researchers to join them, as a training exercise.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/the-sun-living-with-our-star
 
Description SunSpaceArt Workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact SunSpaceArt workshops have been run in over 60 schools across the UK. Artists and scientists have been working together with the children and teachers to enhance scientific knowledge and creativity. The workshops have been very successful, with a high demand for more from many teachers and schools across the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description Talks relating to Women in Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Helen Mason has given many talks about her own career, relating to careers for Women in Science (some are on-line). She gave a talk at the RAS for International Women's Day, a keynote address for Cambridge AWISE and talks to STEM undergraduates in Bath (Feb. 2019) and UCL (Jan 2019) about her career in solar space science. The young students and postgraduates asked many questions about the science and about careers. She has had several blogs written about her, for example by the European Geophysical Union.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL https://blogs.egu.eu/divisions/st/2017/12/15/dr-helen-mason-solar-space-missions-a-life-with-the-sun...
 
Description Talks to Sixth Form students about Solar Space Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Helen Mason has given talks to many sixth form students at their schools and at school conferences. the students are always eager to learn about solar space science, what we have learnt and future projects, such as ESA's solar Orbiter. They ask some very interesting questions. They are keen to learn more about career opportunities in STEM subjects. As a consequence, HEM has been invited to visit other schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description Work with schools and teachers in India 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Helen Mason has worked with many teachers and school children in India, during her visits in November 2016, 2017 and 2018. This work has been carried out mainly at IUCAA, Pune, India, but also at the Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi. She has given several public lectures.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
URL http://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/cover-story//articleshow/31241616.cms
 
Description Workshops, training events for teachers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The SunSpaceArt team led by Helen Mason have run many training events for primary school teachers, with ESERO, at the ASE, with SEERIH (University of Manchester), RAL, Space Camps UK and locally. The teachers have expressed a great interest in the SunSpaceArt project, requesting further information and visits to schools. The team have distributed hundreds of STFC leaflets (Sun and Moon) and informed individuals about how to order them online..
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018,2019