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  Exploring fundamental MagnetoHydroDynamic (MHD) properties of solar chromospheric magnetic fields, via a unique observation of a large-scale swirl and associated magnetic null point (Advert Reference: STFC22/EE/MPEE/SCULLIONEamon)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Eamon Scullion  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Despite decades of research focusing on direct heating processes in the solar corona, it is the solar chromosphere that provides more exciting prospects for astrophysical understanding of the origins solar and stellar atmospheres. Whilst the chromosphere is only heated to a few tens of thousands of degrees the relatively high plasma densities found within the chromosphere, compared to those in the corona, means that it requires at least double the energy input to balance its radiative losses. There is a great deal of international interest in understanding the energetic coupling of the lower layers of the solar atmosphere, between the photosphere and chromosphere, which is shaped and driven by the magnetic field interactions between the layers. Several upcoming missions/observatories (including STFC-funded DKIST) are designed specifically to address this problem. Understanding the fundamental MHD properties of the chromosphere, particularly the chromospheric magnetic field, is crucial for understanding the nature propagating waves and energy release processes believed to play a central role in the mass and energy balance of the solar atmosphere.

Here we will explore a unique observation of a large scale twisted magnetic structure (swirl) in the chromosphere, with bespoke observations from the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope (SST) CRISP instrument in the H-alpha 656.28 nm spectral line. We will reconstruct the chromospheric magnetic field vectors through extrapolation of the high resolution photospheric magnetic field, which is deducible through analysis of the Fe I 630.25 nm spectral line from the same observation. With the application of a novel featuring recognition algorithm (to be developed with the project), the detailed properties of magnetic fields in the chromosphere can be well-constrained and the electric current density vector, the force-free ɑ-parameter, free magnetic energy, Poynting flux and conductivities can be precisely, enabling a unique insight into the fundamental MHD properties of the chromosphere. Within the same Field-Of-View (FOV), there is the unique signature of a magnetic null point, never before observed in the chromosphere, offering a unique and observational insight into the fundamental nature of the MHD process associated with oscillatory reconnection of magnetic fields in the chromosphere, for the first time.

The overall aim of the project is to understand the true nature of magnetic fields in the photosphere and chromosphere of a large-scale swirl and associated magnetic null-point.   

The Principal Supervisor for this project is Dr. Eamon Scullion (E-mail: [Email Address Removed]).    

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD. 

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see  

Please note: Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. STFC22/EE/MPEE/SCULLIONEamon) will not be considered. 

·      You do not need to submit a research proposal for this project as it has already been defined by the supervisor.

·      If you have your own research idea and wish to pursue that, then this is also possible - please indicate this on your application (if this is the case, then please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words). 

Deadline for applications: 1st March 2022

Start Date: 1st October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Computer Science (8) Geology (18) Mathematics (25) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home* or International (including EU) Students and includes a full stipend, paid for 3.5 years at RCUK rates (for 2021/2, this is £15,609 p.a.) and full tuition fees.
* Please note that in order to be classed as Home Student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
- be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
- have settled status, or
- have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
- have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


Further details on this project and other STFC funded projects can be found at:
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