Solar Physics and Space Weather
Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO)
We operate a number of instruments dedicated to studying solar radio bursts and their effects on Earth at the Rosse Observatory in Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Ireland. The observatory has three eCallisto solar radio burst monitors operating at 10-400 MHz, a 4-element LOFAR/LBA test array, ionospheric monitors, and a magnetometer (the magnetometer is operated with DIAS Geophysics). Our research on solar radio bursts and shock waves was featured on the front cover of the December 2013 issue of Nature Physics (Carley et al, Nature Physics, 2013).
Sunspot Magnetic Fields
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections originate in magnetic fields of the Sun’s atmosphere. Using measurements of the Sun’s surface magnetic field from spacecraft such as NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, we are developing methods to characterise and monitor magnetic fields in sunspots. This will enable us to examine the changing topology of sunspots as they emerge, flare and decay. We are also developing techniques to characerise the complexity sunspots. Further details on this research can be found at the FLARECAST project pages, funded by Horizon 2020.
Coronal Mass Ejections
CMEs are large eruptions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun which expand out into the solar system at hundreds of kilometers per second. The diffuse nature of CMEs makes it difficult to identify their morphology and kinematics. We are therefore developing image processing techniques to identify and study the properties and motion of CMEs (e.g., Byrne et al., Nature Communications, 2010). We are currently working with the HELCATS FP7 consortium to relate CMEs to their solar sources.
SolarMonitor.org is a leading on-line tool which automatically reads, calibrates and displays solar data from numerous ground- and space-based observing platforms (Gallagher et al. 2002, 2006). SolarMonitor not only acts as a source for distributing data, but provides secondary products such as region flaring probabilities, which are essential to satellite operators, human space-flight, military operations, and the communications industry in general. We have received over 20 million visitors to the site since its launch.
Solar Orbiter is an ESA-led mission that will be examine how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere, the vast bubble of charged particles blown by the solar wind into the interstellar medium. The spacecraft will combine in situ and remote sensing observations to gain new information about the solar wind, the heliospheric magnetic field, solar energetic particles, transient interplanetary disturbances and the Sun’s magnetic field.
I am a Co-Investigator for the Solar Telescope Imaging X-rays (STIX) instrument on Solar Orbiter.