Studying the Sun

Published on 19 April 2019

A team of mathematicians within the Magnetohydrodynamics & Astrophysics Research Cluster is generating a series of equations which will help to predict powerful solar explosions caused by the sun’s magnetic fields

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"Working with researchers at the University of Durham, we are studying solar magnetohydrodynamics and using mathematics to work out how the sun’s magnetic fields form, develop and explode, leading to major space weather events which can affect Earth," said Professor Gunnar Hornig.

"Using a combination of numerical simulations and mathematical modelling, driven by input from the latest generation of solar telescopes, we will be contributing to the understanding of the dynamic processes in the outer atmosphere of the sun – the solar corona." The project, which is funded by a major grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, is also looking at solar wind and what makes the solar corona so hot.

"We know that magnetic fields are responsible for heating the corona to its multi-million degree temperature," added Professor Hornig. "However, we are hoping to gain a deep understanding of the dynamic behaviours involved in this process."

“These powerful explosions and flares are responsible for the Northern and Southern Lights but can also potentially wreak considerable damage on satellites, communication systems, power grids and pipelines.”

Professor Gunnar Hornig


Press Office, University of Dundee

Story category Research