Research Fellows Directory
Ineke De Moortel
Professor Ineke De Moortel
University of St Andrews
This project concentrates on the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, the solar corona. Although the Sun is our closest star, it is still inaccessible, and hence, studying its behaviour can only be done through remote observations and theoretical modelling. One of the most promising techniques to achieve this is ‘coronal seismology’. The idea behind seismology is that oscillations carry physical information about the structure and the properties of the medium in which they occur. If we can analyse and model observed oscillations, then we can deduce properties of the structures in which they occur. The aim of this project is to further develop coronal seismology, using a combination of high-quality observations, modern data analysis techniques and advanced theoretical modelling. Because most of the theoretical models have been over-simplified, the interpretation of current observations gives rise to almost as many questions as it answers.
Understanding and predicting patterns of solar activity is more important than ever before as society has become ever more reliant on space based infrastructure. Examples of these include navigation satellites, as well as radio, television and telephone equipment. Large solar storms can cause significant disruption to such assets, inflicting both financial and practical costs. Astronauts may be exposed to dangerous amounts of particle radiation from explosions on the Sun. Furthermore, the damage caused by solar activity is not restricted to space. During a magnetic storm, huge electric currents are generated, which can disrupt power distribution on Earth and cause blackouts. Finally, as our Sun is the only star that is near enough to study in detail, it is important to understand the physical processes which occur both in its interior and its atmosphere, in order that astronomers and astrophysicists can rely on this knowledge to test and advance more general models, to explain a broad range of astrophysical phenomena.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)