Armagh Solar Physics on Display at Westminster

Research by a PhD student at the Armagh Observatory, Eamon Scullion, and collaborators at the University of Sheffield, including Robertus Erdelyi (formerly of Armagh Observatory), has been selected by the Science, Engineering and Technology for Britain awards for presentation at the House of Commons on 8th March to an audience including members of both Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

Armagh Observatory astronomer Gerry Doyle said: "This is part of UK Science Week, and the work to be presented concerns the discovery of a new solar phenomenon called Transition Region Quakes, a subject that forms part of Eamon Scullion's PhD thesis. These features are circular seismic surface waves localized close to the transition region above the Sun's visible surface (photosphere)".

The solar Transition Region is a thin, but extremely dynamic layer some 500 - 700 km thick and approximately 2000 km above the visible solar photosphere. It represents the sharp transition in temperature and density between the relatively cool and dense lower solar chromosphere (temperature about 20,000 deg Celsius) and the very hot upper corona (temperature about 15 million deg Celsius), and is perforated by the ubiquitous magnetic field lines originating from the deeper interior of the Sun. The Transition Region Quakes take the form of mega-tsunamis generated by narrow, rapidly rising jets of plasma produced lower down in the Sun's atmosphere. It is possible that their energy may contribute to the long-standing problem of what heats the multi-million degree solar corona.

The University of Sheffield team involves Eamon Scullion, a student jointly supervised by Professor Gerry Doyle (Armagh Observatory) and Professor Robertus Erdelyi and Dr Viktor Fedun (Solar Wave Theory Group, Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre, University of Sheffield).

Our hearty congratulations go to Eamon and colleagues on their selection for this prestigious event.

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

Last Revised: 2010 March 1st