Scheme: Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
Organisation: Imperial College London
Dates: Jan 2006-Aug 2011
Summary: The interaction between stellar corona plasma (plasma is ionised gas, it forms 99% of our universe) and the dynamic magnetic field of its star results in a very vigorous medium within which a variety of active phenomena take place. Most of these are still beyond our understanding.
Flares are one of the most interesting examples of such phenomena; it is a coronal activity frequent in the form of violent, and unpredictable explosions. We observe solar flares in many wavelength, most importantly the Hard X-ray which tell us where most of the energy of the very large flares are going. The relationship between the observed Hard X-ray and the physics behind it that is taking place in the solar flare is not direct and is model dependant. For nearly forty years the Solar/Stellar Physics community was using what is known as the Thick Target Model to explain the relationship between the radiation and the flare. Now I proposed a new model together with Professor John Brown, which changes fundamentally the way we look at the relationship between the radiation and the solar flare. This model gives is far more successful at explaining the observations than the old model and is resulting in a deeper understanding of the physics of Solar Flare.
The effects of big Solar flares can reach us on earth, shaking the earth’s magnetic field and causing serious damage to facilities like power stations and communications satellites. Understanding how flares work enables us to predict their occurrence, thus giving us more time on earth to take the appropriate protective measures. This is a very important aspect of what is known as the Space weather.