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Observatory Hosts Summer School on Solar System Plasmas


This image shows a new sunspot colliding with an existing spot and then exploding into a major solar flare in December 2006.
(Image credit: Hinode JAXA/NASA).

Around fifty first-year PhD students from all over the UK and Ireland are attending a summer school An Overview of the Coupled Earth-Sun System organized by Professor Gerry Doyle of the Armagh Observatory. The week-long meeting, which is funded by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, began on 10th September and includes discussion of new results as well as an intensive series of advanced lectures given by senior astronomers. The aim of the meeting is to train young scientists in plasma physics research, both to strengthen the UK s scientific and technical capacity and to provide critical insight into key solar system science problems.

The Armagh Observatory has a strong solar physics research group which, like the wider scientific research community in the UK and Ireland, is extremely highly regarded on the international stage. The Director of the School, Professor Doyle explained: these schools play an important part in the early training of solar, heliospheric, magnetospheric and ionospheric physicists. The school will provide the opportunity for students, who are typically involved in theoretical modelling or data analysis, to broaden their knowledge, and to hear from experts in the field how a solid appreciation of current observations motivates theory and in turn stimulates new observations and instruments.

The new instruments on board modern space-based observatories, as well as ground-based telescopes and sophisticated computer modelling, are revolutionizing our understanding of the Sun and how it impacts on our terrestrial environment. By combining these high-resolution observations of our closest star with comprehensive theoretical studies, the students attending the STFC Summer School have an unrivalled opportunity to develop their future careers. These young scientists are tackling some of the most difficult problems in astronomy, namely the underlying mechanisms of how energy flows from the solar interior, out through the solar atmosphere and into the solar wind where it finally affects us here on Earth.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Gerry Doyle at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jgdat signarm.ac.uk.

Editors Notes

Further information on solar physics topics may be obtained from the Armagh Observatory web site and from the webpages of the different spacecraft providing this new observational data used by astronomers from the Observatory, e.g. ESA's SoHO mission, the recently launched Japanese spacecraft Hinode, NASA's TRACE mission and the soon to be launched Solar Dynamics Observatory.

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Last Revised: 2007 September 17th
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