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The coronal cooling problem (Advert ref: FAC19/EE/MPEE/ANTOLIN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, July 01, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The complex interaction of the magnetic field with matter is the key to some of the most puzzling observed phenomena at multiple scales across the universe. King among these is the phenomenon of coronal heating. The solar corona is the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere and, like most stars in the universe, it is permeated by closed magnetic structures called coronal loops filled with plasma at staggeringly high multi-million-degree temperatures.

However, the corona also conceals a cooling problem. Indeed, recent observations indicate that, even more mysteriously, like snowflakes in the oven, the corona hosts large amounts of cool material termed coronal rain, hundreds of times colder and denser. Among the images or movies about the Sun that have taken your breath away chances are your favourite one is about coronal rain. This spectacular phenomenon is seen as cool material seemingly appearing out of nowhere and streaming down along coronal loops. Magnetohydrodynamic waves and plasma instabilities often accompany these phenomena but their roles are still poorly understood.

Coronal rain constitutes a new, rapidly growing field of solar physics because of its potential for advancing the coronal heating problem. Indeed, numerical simulations have shown that the formation and evolution characteristics of the cold material are strongly linked to how coronal loops are heated. In this PhD project this close connection between coronal rain and the hot corona will be investigated based on an observational and numerical approach. Observationally, data from state-of-the-art space-based and ground-based instruments will be used. On the computational side, codes will be made available that solve the magnetohydrodynamic equations.

We are primarily looking for applicants with a degree in Mathematics, Physics or Astrophysics. Previous experience of numerical modelling, observational data analysis and computer programming is desirable but not essential. For further information related to the details of the project please contact Dr Patrick Antolin:

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr Patrick Antolin

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.

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. FAC19/EE/MPEE/ANTOLIN) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1 July 2019

Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa).


Antolin, P., Vissers, G., Pereira, T.M.D., Rouppe van der Voort, L. ‘The Multithermal and Multi-stranded Nature of Coronal Rain’, The Astrophysical Journal, 2015, Vol. 806, 81

Antolin, P. & Rouppe van der Voort, L. ‘Observing the Fine Structure of Loops through High-resolution Spectroscopic Observations of Coronal Rain with the CRISP Instrument at the Swedish Solar Telescope’, The Astrophysical Journal, 2012, Vol. 745, 152

Antolin, P., Vissers, G. & Shibata, K. ‘Coronal Rain as a Marker for Coronal Heating Mechanisms’, The Astrophysical Journal, 2010, Vol. 716, 154

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