Active regions are portions of the solar atmosphere that are threaded by strong magnetic fields, with sunspots being their visible imprint on the solar surface. These regions are the primary sources of solar activity in the form of flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), both of which contribute to adverse space weather – conditions in the near-Earth space environment that pose a risk to technology and human life.
The energy that powers these forms of solar activity comes from magnetic energy that is stored in the complex and twisted magnetic fields within active regions. Although it is understood that the injection of free magnetic energy into active regions is facilitated through magnetic flux emergence and shearing surface motions, the precise conditions that are required to facilitate energy release and the processes that are involved during energy release remain under debate.
This PhD project will investigate the magnetic structure of active regions, in particular the evolution of magnetic field prior to and over the course of solar flares. The student will be expected to analyze solar magnetic field observations obtained from space-based satellite instrumentation, and potentially from state-of-the-art international ground-based solar telescopes. The aim of this research is to explore the structure and evolution of solar active regions to gain greater understanding of how flares are produced.
The student should have a degree in either Astrophysics, Physics or Mathematics. Experience with coding in a scientific programming language (e.g., IDL, Python, C, etc…) will be looked upon favourably.
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 (evidence required by 1 August 2017).
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Deadline for applications: 20 January 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017
Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.
This project is being considered for funding in competition with other projects, through one of two types of funding packages available:
• Fully funded studentships include a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates for 2017/18 (this is yet to be set, in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000 / International Lab-based £16,000), and are available to applicants worldwide.
• As Northumbria celebrates its 25th anniversary as a University and in line with our international outlook, some projects may also be offered to students from outside of the EU supported by a half-fee reduction.
Barnes, G., Leka, K.D., Schrijver, C.J., Colak, T., Qahwaji, R., Ashamari, O.W., Yuan, Y., Zhang, J., McAteer, R.T.J., Bloomfield, D.S. and 8 coauthors (2016) The Astrophysical Journal, 829, 89 A Comparison of Flare Forecasting Methods. I. Results from the “All-Clear” Workshop
McCloskey, A.E., Gallagher, P.T., Bloomfield, D.S. (2016) Solar Physics, 291, 1711 Flaring Rates and the Evolution of Sunspot Group McIntosh Classifications
Murray, S.A., Bloomfield, D.S., Gallagher, P.T. (2013) Astronomy & Astrophysics, 550, A119 Evidence for partial Taylor relaxation from changes in magnetic geometry and energy during a solar flare
Murray, S.A., Bloomfield, D.S., Gallagher, P.T. (2012) Solar Physics, 277, 45-57 The Evolution of Sunspot Magnetic Fields Associated with a Solar Flare