Solar Wave Theory Group (SWAT)

Research

Background

SWAT’s recent expansion in solar interior wave research was timely because of the enhanced opportunities for exploitation of sub-photospheric data from high-resolution instruments (MDI on SOHO, HMI and AIA on SDO) and from BiSON; we have now a unique capability for local magneto-helioseismology in the UK, also a unique juxtaposition in the UK of helioseismic data analysis with active interest in looking at, e.g. the very important and crucial magnetic effects through MHD (only comparable activity is that of Cally at Monash in collaboration with colleagues at CORA, Colorado). We believe that our novel approach (i) of bringing together expertise in MHD and solar interior wave research has opened genuinely new and exciting windows of research in magnetic helioseismology.

Further, in near-surface solar wave studies, we follow on to pursue the innovative idea that the interplay among waves, coherent and random magnetic and flow fields, often ignored in traditional solar wave coupling processes, is critical to determining a self-consistent dynamics (e.g. spicule dynamics or plasma heating). This research is extremely timely since detailed information about the structure and dynamics of the MHD waveguides has become available by the boom of high-resolution data.

SWAT’s solar atmospheric research, recently boosted considerably because of the high-resolution imaging data obtained by SOHO, TRACE, STEREO, Hinode and the soon-available data from SDO supplemented by the superb capacity of ROSA and IBIS mounted on the ground-based SST and DST facilities, became an even more exciting and promising field for MHD applications: the combined approach of (ii) diagnostic interpretation and forward modelling of high-resolution data allows us, for the first time, to obtain detailed vital sub-resolution information about the coronal magnetic field, the dynamics and magnetic fine structure of the solar atmosphere (from photosphere through transition region into corona), and about the transport coefficients that are crucial for energy dissipation and heating in the solar atmospheric plasma.

Our approach of a (iii) coupled magnetic solar sub-surface, chromosphere, transition region and corona is one of the hottest topics in 21st century solar physics, with major international meetings devoted to it. We believe, that our coherent proposal demonstrates that we have now a real chance to obtain a much deeper insight into how energy travels from the near-surface sub-photospheric interior, through the solar surface, into the solar corona in various magnetic structures (from tiny pores and bright points, to sunspots and complex multi-fibril structure magnetic waveguides). No doubt, the UK is leading the way in solar (interior and atmospheric) magneto-seismology. Knowledge of the magnetic structure from sub-photosphere to corona is evidently important, not just for the various heating mechanisms a central topic of SWAT's efforts - put forward in the literature, but also for the modelling of solar atmospheric coupling (e.g. CMEs) down to the Earth’s upper-atmosphere. We believe that our unique and main strength is the over-arching wave research activity from the sub-surface interior into the corona and space plasma where we try to understand this system through the ubiquitous magnetic coupling. International context: All the scientific research in SWAT's central interest receives a high level of activity worldwide (SOHO, TRACE, STEREO, Hinode, ROSA and IBIS ongoing; ATST, SDO,Solar Orbiter, Solar-C, HiRISE in preparation) with a strong track record of contribution on theory/data analysis present within the UK (Cambridge, Birmingham/BiSON, Imperial, MSSL, Manchester, St. Andrews, UCLAN, Warwick). We already play a major role in the next generation of solar missions (SDO AIA - RvFS is an Invited Scientific Advisor by NASA and a Co-Investigator; Solar Orbiter - RvFS is a member of the SPICE Science Definition Working Group; ATST - RvFS is an Invited Scientific Advisor, PROBA-3 - RvFS is leading UK's theory efforts). We plan to further increase our involvement both on national and international level (e.g. participation in proposing new missions, e.g. HiRISE where RvFS is a Lead Co-Applicant).