SPATE PhD studentships available!

We welcome you to apply for STFC-sponsored studentships in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. Projects are being offered allowing students to investigate the origins of the solar wind, to explore the source of structure in coronal mass ejections, and to develop new models of Outer Radiation Belt …
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/ Highlights, News

A diagnosis of the plasma waves responsible for the explosive energy release of substorm onset

View of auroral beads from the ISS. Credit: ESA. During geomagnetic substorms, stored magnetic and plasma thermal energies are explosively converted into plasma kinetic energy. This rapid reconfiguration of Earth’s nightside magnetosphere is manifest in the ionosphere as an auroral display that fills the sky. Progress in understanding of how …
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Nudging solar wind forecasts back towards reality

In order to forecast space weather, it is necessary to accurately model the solar wind, the continually expanding solar atmosphere which fills the solar system. At present, telescopic observations of the Sun’s surface are used to provide the starting conditions for computer simulations of the solar wind, which then propagate …
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Modelling asymmetric current sheets in Earth’s magnetosphere

During a magnetic reconnection event, stored energy that had been bound up in stressed electromagnetic fields is released in the form of heat and the kinetic energy of particles. The NASA MMS mission is currently making diffusion-region measurements of these phenomena in the Earth’s Magnetosphere, with unprecedented levels of accuracy …
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Forecast uncertainty in the near-Earth solar wind conditions

Long lead-time space-weather forecasts require accurate prediction of the solar wind conditions in near-Earth space. The current state-of-the-art involves coupled numerical models initialised using photospheric magnetic field observations. This deterministic approach means there is no estimate of forecast uncertainty. Large ensembles with perturbed boundary conditions aren’t really feasible due to …
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How much magnetic flux does the heliosphere contain?

There is no direct means to measure the amount of magnetic flux dragged out from the corona by the solar wind to form the “open” solar flux (OSF) component which forms the heliosphere.  If we start at the photosphere and work upwards, the estimate of OSF is strongly technique dependent …
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Propagation of information within coronal mass ejections

[This originally appeared as a UKSP science nugget] Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are huge, episodic eruptions of solar plasma and magnetic field which travel through the solar corona and out into the heliosphere. At Earth, they drive the most severe geomagnetic storms and thus are the primary focus of space-weather …
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/ CME, Highlights, Publication, Space Weather

Testing the current paradigm for space weather prediction with heliospheric imagers

Predicting the arrival of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in near-Earth space is a challenging and important problem, as CMEs are the main driver of severe space weather. The Heliospheric Imager (HI) cameras provide observations of the plasma between the Sun and Earth and can be used to track the evolution …
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/ Highlights, Publication

Solar wind variations over the last four centuries

The heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) varies over all observed timescales, from millennia (top), though decades/centuries (middle) to days/hours (bottom). In this study we used sunspot records to reconstruct the global solar wind and heliospheric magnetic field for the first time. We find that during the Maunder minimum, a period of …
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/ Highlights, Publication