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Next generation studies of the Sun’s magnetic activity

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Sun's character is determined by its dynamic and evolving magnetic field, particularly in regions of intense magnetism known as active regions. When active regions are young they are the source of the most violent and energetic events in the Solar System - coronal mass ejections and solar flares. When active regions die, they disperse their magnetic field across the Sun and remnants of this field become the input for the next solar cycle. Understanding the physical processes that take place in active regions is therefore centrally important to understanding how the Sun operates.

This project will focus on high-resolution space and ground-based observations of active regions. The work will focus on understanding how the magnetic field of active regions evolves over time and how changes at small spatial scales are able to contribute to the large-scale evolution. The project is particularly timely, as data will soon become available from the DKIST facility in Hawaii. DKIST is a four-meter reflecting telescope with a spatial resolution that reaches the fundamental length scales of photon mean-free path and the plasma pressure scale height, which is needed to study the building blocks of the magnetic field. In the later stages of the project, there will be links to the upcoming Solar Orbiter mission, in which MSSL plays a leading role. Solar Orbiter aims to investigate how changes to the Sun's magnetic field propagate out into the heliosphere, thus taking the project from small-scale magnetism close to the Sun, to large-scale eruptions that modify the near-Earth space environment.

Desired Knowledge and Skills

• Undergraduate courses in astrophysics, solar physics or plasma physics
• Strong computational skills


Applications submitted by 31st January 2020 will be given full consideration. We will continue accepting applications until all places are filled. After we receive your application, we will select candidates for interviews. If you are selected, you will be invited for an interview at MSSL. You will have the opportunity to see the laboratory, students' flats and talk to current students. The studentships are for the advertised projects only. In your application, please specify which project you want to apply for.

To apply, please visit the Online Application page, select department of "Space & Climate Physics" and programme type of "Postgraduate Research". After pushing "Search Now" button, select "RRDSPSSING01: Research Degree: Space and Climate Physics" for Full-time or Part-time mode.
Our Online Applications page can be found here:

Entry requirements

An upper second-class Bachelor’s degree, or a second-class Bachelor’s degree together with a Master's degree from a UK university in a relevant subject, or an equivalent overseas qualification.

Students from the UK or those from the EU who meet the residency requirements (3 years' full-time residency in the UK) are potentially eligible for a Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) studentship.

Funding Notes

These pay UK/EU tuition fees and a maintenance allowance for 3.5 years (subject to the PhD upgrade review).

EU students who do not meet eligibility requirements still qualify for the UK/EU fees rate, but not the STFC maintenance allowance.

Related Subjects

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