The outer atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, is a unique plasma laboratory. It provides key insights into fundamental universal processes (e.g. magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration). Yet, the very existence of the corona in itself is not well understood. It is composed of million Kelvin hot plasma trapped by magnetic fields, and overlies the much cooler 6000 K photosphere, the visible surface of the Sun. How do magnetic fields regulate mass and energy transport from the cool photosphere to sustain the overlying hot corona? This is a long-standing problem in astrophysics, which lacks a comprehensive explanation. The missing link in this puzzle is an observationally validated framework of how the corona is magnetically coupled to the photosphere.
The newly established research group ORIGIN, funded by the European Union, is geared toward tackling this challenging problem of developing a framework for coronal heating by probing the elusive photosphere-corona connection and comprehensively testing the importance of different magnetic processes in the heating of the outer solar atmosphere. The project will combine new and exciting data from the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) and the Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager (PHI), two of the remote-sensing instruments on the ESA-led Solar Orbiter space mission, to study how magnetic fields drive the hot solar corona.
L. P. Chitta, H. Peter, S. K. Solanki, P. Barthol, A. Gandorfer, L. Gizon, J. Hirzberger, T. L. Riethmüller, M. van Noort, J. Blanco Rodríguez, J. C. Del Toro Iniesta, D. Orozco Suárez, W. Schmidt, V. Martínez Pillet, and M. Knölker, "Solar Coronal Loops Associated with Small-scale Mixed Polarity Surface Magnetic Fields," Astrophysical Journal, Suppl. Ser. 229, 4 (2017).
The Planetary Plasma Environments group (PPE) has a strong heritage in the exploration of planetary magnetospheres and space plasma interactions throughout the solar system. It has contributed instruments to several past missions that flew-by or orbited Jupiter (Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses). The PPE participates in the JUICE mission by contributing hardware and scientific expertise to the Particle Environment Package (PEP).
The Sun’s planets and small objects have undergone substantial evolution. Deciphering the history of our cosmic home is not a simple task even though we now have access to a multitude of data gathered by space missions, remote observations, and laboratory studies of diverse samples. A significant fraction of materials available for the study of planetary bodies come from meteorites.
The Solar Lower Atmosphere and Magnetism (SLAM) group covers many exciting subjects in solar physics, focussing on the development and testing of highly novel solar instrumentation, reduction and analysis of highest quality solar observations, or improving and developing advanced techniques for the analysis of solar observations.
Inversion codes are used to aid the detailed interpretation of solar spectro-polarimetric data. This computer code attempts to find the atmospheric structure that produced an observed spectrum by minimizing the difference between the observed spectrum and a Stokes spectrum.