MSSL Solar Physics News

Solar Orbiter heat shield attached

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The Solar Orbiter mission passed a major milestone on Friday 13th March when the heat shield was attached to the engineering model. Solar Orbiter is the next major space mission for studying the Sun, and is due to launch in 2018. Using a highly elliptical orbit, the Solar Orbiter spacecraft will get to within 0.3 AU away from the Sun and as such it requires a heat shield to protect the delicate electronics and instruments from the full effects of the extreme environment it will face there. MSSL has a significant involvement in the Solar Orbiter mission on both the remote sensing and in-situ sides. On the remote sensing side, the electronics box for the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) is being built at MSSL, while on the in-situ side, MSSL is the Principle Investigator institute for the Solar Wind Analyser suite of instruments. The photo attached shows the heat shield on the left and on the right, Prof. Louise Harra (EUI Co-PI) and Prof. Chris Owen (SWA PI) at Astrium in Stevenage to see the Solar Orbiter heat shield being attached.

EUI Working group meeting at MSSL

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From 3-5 March, the Solar Group at MSSL played host to the 15th Consortium meeting for the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI), one of the instruments onboard the forthcoming Solar Orbiter mission. With the development and construction of the EUI instrument continuing at MSSL as well as at partner institutions across Europe, this meeting was an opportunity to consider the planned observing campaigns and ensure the success of the mission. The MSSL group were joined by scientists and engineers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Centre Spatial de Liège, PMOD and Institut d'Optique.

Louise Harra at DKIST site

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Professor Louise Harra, Head of the Solar Physics Group at MSSL is currently visiting the site of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), which is situated on the mountain of Haleakala on Maui in Hawaii. As can be seen from the photo above, construction is continuing, with the project on track for first light in 2019. When completed, DKIST will be the largest solar telescope in the world, with a primary mirror of just over 4m. This will allow scientists to study the surface of the Sun in unprecedented detail, providing a unique insight into how magnetic fields are generated and how they evolve with time. MSSL is part of a UK consortium providing cameras for the different instruments on DKIST. For more information on the role that MSSL are playing as part of the DKIST consortium, please see the UCL MAPS webpage here.

Lucie Green on Stargazing Live

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Dr. Lucie Green, a Royal Society University Research Fellow with the Solar Group can currently be seen on Stargazing Live on BBC 2 TV! The guide to the program can be found on the BBC website here:, along with a link to watch the episodes on BBC iPlayer (within the UK). As part of the program, Lucie has also put together a guide to watching the eclipse safely which may be found here:

Steph Yardley on an eclipse cruise

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With the solar eclipse just a day away, Stephanie Yardley, a postgraduate student with the Solar Group at MSSL is currently on a cruise into the path of totality. Steph is giving a series of five lectures about the Sun, space weather, the aurorae and solar eclipses as part of the cruise, and has been lucky enough to be travelling north during one of the largest geomagnetic storms of recent times. Here's hoping that the clouds stay away and Steph manages to get some excellent eclipse photos to go with those of the aurora!

Bust of Lucie Green unveiled at the Royal Society

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Congratulations to Lucie Green who last night had a bust unveiled at the Royal Society in London! Dr. Lucie Green is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at MSSL and was being honoured at an event exploring the history of women and science writing. The bust was created and gifted to the Royal Society by Marcus Cornish. More details on the event may be found on the Royal Society webpages here.

Estimating the energy of a global 'EIT wave'

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by David Long, Deborah Baker, David Williams, Eoin Carley, Peter Gallagher & Pietro ZuccaHinode/EIS and SDO/AIA observations of an erupting 'EIT wave' from 25-February-2014 are used to estimate the energy of the wave using the Sedov-Taylor relation. For more details, see the EIS nugget here.

Lucie Green on BBC Radio 4

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Dr. Lucie Green, a Royal Society University Research Fellow with the Solar Group, will be on BBC Radio 4 this morning (Friday 30th January) at 11am presenting "The Sound of Space", an audio guide to the Universe. For more details, and to listen to the show, please find the the programme website here:

New Postdoc joins the solar group

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We're delighted to welcome Dr. David Pérez-Suárez to the Solar Group from 1st December 2014 as a post-doctoral research associate working with Dr. David Long on identifying and analysing global waves in the solar atmosphere using ground-based data from the ISOON network. David received his BSc. in Astrophysics from the University of La Laguna (Canary Islands) before doing a PhD in Solar Physics at Armagh Observatory and Queen's University Belfast (N. Ireland) during which he analysed coronal bright points using spectroscopy, imagers and magnetometers. He subsequently worked as a Postdoc in the Astrophysics Research Group at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) working on the HELIO project and assisting in the development of SolarMonitor. He then spent a year in Finland, working at the space group in the Finnish Meteorological Institute before spending a year in the Space Weather team of the South African National Space Agency, where he assisted the space weather forecaster with his knowledge in solar physics and propagation of the solar events. David is also involved in SunPy, Software Carpentry and one of the scientist behind the citizen science project Sunspotter. He is not much of social network savvy, but you can find him in researchgate, twitter, google+ or in his blog.

Solar group winners at the RAS awards

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The work and achievements of members of the Solar group were recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society in their annual awards on 12th January 2015. The Group Achievement Award in Geophysics was awarded to the Hinode EIS team led by Prof. Louise Harra for its remarkable success resulting "from the close collaboration of British, Japanese, American and Norwegian teams who, in addition to their remarkable scientific advances, have provided outstanding support to the UK and international community". The RAS Service Award, recognising "individuals who, through outstanding or exceptional work, have promoted, facilitated or encouraged the sciences of astronomy or geophysics and developed their role in the life of the nation", was awarded to Prof. Lidia van Driel-Gestelyi. Congratulations to all!

NLFFF extrapolation of an emerging active region

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EIS Nugget September

A new EIS nugget for the month of September has been written by G. Valori of LESIA-Observatoire de Paris. Nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) extrapolation was used to investigate the structure of the field at the time of the main emergence. Here, the extrapolation is based on an SOT/SP vector magnetogram obtained from the scan on 4 July 11:58-12:34 UT. You can read the full text here.

Detecting sun-quakes using GONG data

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Two papers on detection of sun-quakes using groundbased Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) data are now published in The Astrophysical Journal. The first, develops specific cleaning techniques for GONG velocity data and shows that it can be used for quake detection by comparing the results with those obtained from spacebased SOHO-MDI mission. In the second, a new sun-quake associated with 2006 December 14 X class flare is reported and analysed.

Evidence of a Connection Between Active Region Outflows and the Solar Wind

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EIS Nugget August

(by David H. Brooks, George Mason University and Harry P. Warren, Naval Research Laboratory). Hinode has revealed the presence of high temperature (few MK) outflows at the edges of many active regions. These outflows show velocities of tens of km/s and appear to persist for at least several days. The full text is available here.

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