Solar flares are spectacular demonstrations of solar activity, releasing large amounts of energy from the complex magnetic fields of sunspot groups. Along with coronal mass ejections, solar flares are a major contributor to space weather – the interaction of solar magnetic fields and particles with the Earth’s magnetosphere and upper atmosphere. Knowledge of the processes that drive this interaction is of importance not just to solar physics but also to human space endeavour, because space-based technological systems can suffer interruptions, damage, or terminal failure. Understanding the fundamental physics of solar flares is thus of importance in developing accurate and reliable space-weather forecasts. I propose to investigate the statistics of solar X-ray flares as a function of the physical properties of the sunspot groups from which they originate, thus improving our understanding of the physical conditions required for flare activity. These sunspot group flaring distributions will then be developed into a near-realtime flare-prediction tool using Bayesian techniques, providing novel physically motivated probability measures for future flare events. This represents a unique approach to understanding and interpreting the precise physical conditions that result in flare energy release. This work is vital to the European Community as highlighted by the recent Pathfinder Initiative to make sense of complexity and extreme events and ESA’s proposed Space Weather Programme. During the fellowship, I envisage developing my grant-writing, student supervision, lecturing, and conference-organising skills. This will diversify and extend my knowledge to a level of professional maturity whereby I can apply for and successfully obtain a tenure track academic post at a European research institute.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/astronomy/galactic astronomy/solar physics
Call for proposal
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