Mary (Katie) Kosak
Advisor: Dr. David Hathaway
Measuring and modeling solar photospheric flows and their influence on the photospheric magnetic field using data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be downloaded from the SDO website via IDL scripts. This image data will be processed using IDL procedures to map the imaged data onto a grid with uniform spacing in heliographic latitude and longitude. This mapped data will be analyzed by IDL procedures to determine the flow vectors of the imaged features (magnetic elements, granules, supergranules). These flow vectors will be used to model the transport of magnetic features for comparison with the observed evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field – the ultimate source of the sunspot cycle, coronal heating, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections.
Advisor: Mitzy Adams
The student will examine data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory using IDL programs to indentify solar X-ray bright points that produce small jets.
Advisor: Drs. Brahmananda Dasgupta and Jacob Heerikhuisen
Modeling Chaotic Magnetic Fields and their Influence on Particle Energization
Complex magnetic field configurations are abundant in space physics. An interesting question is whether these magnetic field lines exhibit “chaotic” behavior. In this project, the student will write a code to compute the magnetic field line structure for various magnetic field line configurations, generated by relatively simple sources. In addition, the trajectories of charged particles will be traced through these magnetic structures, with the aim of determining key differences in trajectories through chaotic fields, as opposed to non-chaotic fields.
Advisor: Dr. Linda Krause
Experimenting with pulsed electron beams to generate plasma turbulence in Argon. or working with large sets of solar, geomagnetic, and ionospheric data to build a 3D ionosphere model which can be visualized on a computer screen with induced stereopsis using rapidly alternating images and shutter glasses (like in 3D movies). The models would be driven by solar and geomagnetic activity, and they would be animated while the user "flies through" the environment.
Advisors: Drs. Qiang Hu, Gang Li, Nick Pogorelov, and Brahma Dasgupta
Data Analysis of Solar Wind Structures
The aim of this project is to analyze spacecraft measurements of the solar wind plasma, primarily from the in-situ magnetic field and plasma instruments on-board NASA/ESA missions, and remote observations. These include measurements provided by such NASA/ESA spacecraft as ACE, WIND, Voyager, Ulysses, and Cluster, and particularly the latest STEREO and ARTEMIS mission data, which offer high-resolution measurements of solar wind plasma and magnetic field, and NSO/GONG remotely obtained data. Students will learn how to download the relevant data products from various data centers, and will be trained in proper formatting and archiving data for further analysis. Students will find out how to access and process scientific data by proper tools that are standard in the field. On gaining familiarity with various solar wind measurements, students will be able to (1) identify large-scale transient structures, such as interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) and shock waves, (2) track and analyze short-scale, quasi-static structures in the solar wind, such as current sheets and magnetic holes, (3) perform general analysis of solar wind properties (such as turbulence) under quiet and normal conditions, and (4) interpret some analysis results, in relation to basic space plasma processes occurring at the Sun and in the inner heliosphere. By the end of the project, our students will develop skills in basic scientific data analysis and visualization techniques. Access to Matlab, IDL, and Fortran/C++ compilers will be provided for this project.
Advisors: Fathallah Alouani-Bibi and Jakobus le Roux
Simulation of charged particle trajectories across an interplanetary shock.
The main objective of this research project is to gain an understanding of the dynamic interaction of high energy charged particles with an interplanetary shock. Numerical simulations of the particle's trajectory subject to the action of the Lorentz force and the cross shock potential will be performed. In the process the student will learn about and assess the role of different shock acceleration mechanisms, shock reflection, shock obliquity, and particle drift. The student will be expected to learn how to run and change input in the particle trajectory tracing FORTRAN code, and use graphical software (MATLAB) to plot different simulation outputs and the particle trajectory.
Advisor: Dr. Brian Robinson
The program requires optical testing of a dual, 6"-aperture Fabry-Perotetalon tunable filter and prediction of the impact of optical errors on science data. These F-P etalons are visible band filters to be deployed in a network of ground-based solar telescopes. First we will develop software (in Matlab) to control the filters and acquire and analyze the measurement data. Then will measure the quality of the etalon cavities individually, using a stabilized HeNe laser as the source, by tuning the etalons through the laser line and analyzing the resultant data cube. Next we will use the data from the testing of the individual etalons to synthesize a map of the composite spectral performance over the dual-etalon filter aperture. Finally, we will predict the impact of the filter optical quality on the science data (spectroheliograms, Dopplergrams, and/or magnetograms) acquired by the telescopes.
Advisors: Drs. Valerie Connaughton and Michael Briggs
The Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) detects 2 Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs) per week by triggering onboard in a 16 millisecond window. Recently, the GBM team has developed a new mode of detecting fainter TGFs in smaller time windows by going into a special data taking mode when the Fermi spacecraft overflies areas of thunderstorm activity. This new mode makes GBM the most sensitive TGF detector ever, and will allow us to calculate the overall luminosity distribution and global rate of these events. Eventually we hope to discover whether all lightning makes TGFs, or associate TGFs with a particular type of lightning and storm, and answering this question requires the largest possible sample of TGFs. We would like our student to run our newly developed TGF search algorithm in the archival time-tagged data from non-TGF triggers accumulated during the first four years of the Fermi mission, and to help classify any untriggered events as true TGFs or cosmic ray background.
Advisor: Dr. Amy Winebarger
Characterizing the Evolution of Solar Coronal Loops
Though there have been significant advances in understanding and characterizing EUV loops over the past decade, there are still several important and unresolved questions about their evolution. The AIA on the SDO provides a unique opportunity to detect, analyze, and characterize the loop properties and infer important constraints to the coronal heating mechanism. In your research project, you will analyze multiple AIA EUV images to identify evolving structures. You will then use the observed evolution to infer the temperature and density evolution. From this work, we will also determine the important timescales of the structures, such as their cooling and draining time, and characterize the steady background emission.
Advisor: Drs. David Falconer and Ron Moore
Exploring the Dichotomy of X-Ray Jets in Solar Coronal Holes: Is More Cool Plasma Ejected in Blowout Jets than in Standard Jets?
In this project, Hinode coronal X-ray movies of the polar coronal holes taken since the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) solar space mission has been in operation (since June 2010), will be searched for X-ray jets. From the observed characteristics of each jet found, the jet will be identified to be a standard jet, or a blowout jet, or indeterminate. Co-temporal movies taken by SDO in 304 Å emission from He II, showing solar plasma at temperatures around 80,000 K, will then be examined for whether the identified blowout jets carry much more He II plasma than the identified standard jets. If it is found that most blowout jets do carry more 80,000 K plasma than most standard jets, this will support the scenario for the production of polar X-ray jets depicted in Figure 1. If instead it is found that in the He II 304 Å movies most standard jets are about as visible as most blowout jets, this will challenge the models depicted in Figure 1.