Consolidated Solar and Heliospheric Physics Research at UCLan

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


This consolidated grant proposal groups together research projects to be carried out within the Solar Physics group of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute at the University of Central Lancashire. The projects aim to study the outer atmosphere of the Sun, the solar corona, and its associated structures, such as active regions and coronal loops. Solar activity, including solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and the associated energetic particles are also a focus of the research.

The investigations will include:

- analysing whether the rotation of sunspots can provide sufficient energy to power solar active regions and their associated activity, such as solar flares and CMEs.

- studing coronal loops, characteristic of solar active regions, by using high-resolution data from NASA's High resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) and ESA's Solar Orbiter mission combined with theoretical models.

- analysing how Solar Energetic Particles are accelerated during flares and CMEs and how they propagate through space, by comparing simulation results with data from the Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter missions taken at locations in space near the Sun.

Planned Impact

Impact from the proposed projects will take place mainly via Community Engagement and interaction with the UK Met Office.

The Solar Physics group within the JHI has a strong track record of engagement, most recently via the Blackpool PIER project (Physics: Inspire, Engage and Research) and the SUN art-science collaboration.

PIER is a project funded through Walsh's STFC Leadership Fellowship in Public Engagement, aiming to improve participation in science for young people in low-science capital low-participation areas of Blackpool. The involvement with primary school pupils that is ongoing as part of PIER, will continue beyond the duration of the project and into the time covered by this consolidated grant.

SUN is an ongoing art-science collaboration that was most recently displayed within the Lightpool Festival in Blackpool and Light Up Lancaster. It is a 3D reconstruction of the Sun with projection of movies of solar data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory over a 7m diameter suspended sphere. It is expected that this installation inspired by solar research will be displayed in other UK locations and possibly international destinations in future years.

In addition to the PIER and SUN projects, the applicants contribute regularly to public engagement activities within the JHI. These include outreach activities at Alston Observatory and the Moor Park Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory, the JHI Public Lecture Series and the Lancashire Science Festival. These are regular activities that will continue over this consolidated grant.

We are also involved in a collaboration with the Met Office on forecasting of Solar Energetic Particle radiation risk for Space Weather applications. The SPARX SEP forecasting model, developed within the Solar Group, is currently available to Met Office Space Weather forecasters who compile alerts disseminated to Met Office subscribers. It is planned that further developments of SPARX and collaboration with the Met Office on its use will take place during this consolidated grant.


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