Solar flares are the most energetic “explosions” in the solar system, affecting the Earth and our space environment in many ways, a phenomenon known as “space weather”. Our understanding of flares has developed considerably since their first detection in the 1859, especially through recent X-ray observations from space, as well as radio observations and computer simulations. A rapid release of stored magnetic energy through the process of magnetic reconnection creates very hot plasma and high-energy particle beams. But many puzzles remain! Furthermore, the combined effect of many smaller flare-like events known as nanoflares may explain the long-standing mystery of the high temperature of the solar corona. Theoretical modelling of flares and nanoflares through a combination of three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations, test particle calculations and semi-analytical relaxation models provides valuable new insights into the underlying processes by which the plasma is heated and particles are accelerated in flares and nanoflares. Some synergies with magnetically-confined fusion plasmas will also be discussed.
Philippa Browning studied mathematics at Cambridge, followed by a PhD investigating magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere in the Applied Mathematics department at St Andrews. She came to Manchester in 1985 as a lecturer in Physics at UMIST, and is now
Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. Her research encompasses theoretical plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamic modelling applied both to the solar corona and magnetically-confined fusion plasmas. Her particular interests are magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration in solar flares and solar coronal heating, also reconnection and instabilities in spherical tokamaks. She was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Chapman medal in 2016. She is Chair of the IOP Plasma Physics Group and also Chair of the UK Solar Physics Council. She is active in promoting women in physics, and is currently on the Advisory Panel of the IOP Women in Physics Group. Her career has been combined with bringing up her son and two stepchildren.
Talk starts at 18.30 with refreshments from 18.00. No booking required.