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Oscillatory Reconnection: the physics of time-dependent, wave-generating reconnection (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/MPEE/MCLAUGHLINJames)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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Prof J McLaughlin No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Newcastle United Kingdom Applied Mathematics Astronomy Astrophysics Computational Physics Environmental Physics Fluid Mechanics Mathematical Modelling Space Science

About the Project

This project will address the question of how stored energy can be released from magnetised plasmas via reconnection. This will be achieved through an investigation into the fundamental nature of time-dependent, wave-generating reconnection, known as Oscillatory Reconnection. This project will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the fundamental physics of the Oscillatory Reconnection mechanism, including developing 3D nonlinear magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) numerical models that utilise the mechanism to explain and interpret the multitude of oscillations observed in different layers of the Sun’s atmosphere. The numerical simulations will be run using established MHD codes. Throughout the modelling processes, the philosophy will be to build up the model incrementally, with an emphasis on understanding the underlying physical processes at each step.

The project will also investigate the observational signatures of Oscillatory Reconnection, including how the mechanism manifests in solar flares, in order to assess its relative importance as the physical mechanism underpinning Quasi-Periodic Pulsations. At its heart, Oscillatory Reconnection is a dynamic energy release process and so is central to multiple fields of study. Thus, the results will be of interest to several communities, including solar physics, astrophysical, fusion, laboratory-based plasma, computational MHD and space weather communities.

This project would be suitable for a student with a background in physics, mathematics or a closely-related physical science, and an interest in solar physics or astrophysics. The successful student will develop an understanding of time-dependent magnetic reconnection, MHD wave theory, and computational MHD (including using High Performance Computing). Prior knowledge of these topics is desirable but not essential. Training in all necessary skills will be provided. The student will also have the opportunity to present their work at national and international conferences and publish their work in the leading scientific journals.

The project will be supervised by Professor James McLaughlin.

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.

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

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/MPEE/MCLAUGHLINJames) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 7 January 2021

Start Date: Ideally 1 June 2021 (but there is flexibility for an earlier or a later start date)

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

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) Students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/1, this is £15,285 p.a.) and full tuition fees.


Nonlinear fast magnetoacoustic wave propagation in the neighbourhood of a 2D magnetic X-point: oscillatory reconnection
JA McLaughlin, I De Moortel, AW Hood, CS Brady (2009)
Astronomy & Astrophysics, 493, 227

On the periodicity of oscillatory reconnection
JA McLaughlin, JO Thurgood, D MacTaggart (2012)
Astronomy & Astrophysics, 548, A98

Three-dimensional oscillatory magnetic reconnection
JO Thurgood, DI Pontin, JA McLaughlin (2017)
The Astrophysical Journal, 844, 2

Modelling Quasi-Periodic Pulsations in Solar and Stellar Flares
JA McLaughlin, VM Nakariakov, M Dominique, P Jelínek, S Takasao (2018)
Space Science Reviews, 214, 45

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