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Multi-Wavelength Observations of Geoeffective Solar Flares

Multi-Wavelength Observations of Geoeffective Solar Flares



Solar flares are the most energetic explosions in the solar system. Rapid restructuring of the Sun’s coronal magnetic field results in the acceleration of particles to relativistic energies. These energetic electrons collide with the dense, underlying chromosphere, causing it to heat and expand. The resulting increase in EUV and X-ray radiation can significantly impact the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, as well as those of other planets. It also allows us to diagnose the plasma conditions within the flaring chromosphere and put constraints on various theoretical flare heating models. The study of solar flares is also important to help us understand flares on other stars, and how they may impact the search for potentially habitable exoplanets. 

Project description

As Solar Cycle 25 gets underway, a considerable amount of data will be amassed by the next generation of solar satellites. The Solar Orbiter spacecraft, for example, comprises a suite of instruments that will study the Sun from within the orbit of the planet Mercury. The STIX instrument will determine the properties of accelerated (nonthermal) electrons, while the EUI and SPICE instruments will provide high-resolution images and spectra, respectively, of the flaring solar chromosphere. These data will be supplemented by observations from Earth, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), among others. This project will focus on the analysis of datasets of solar flares simultaneously observed by a range of space-based instruments, as well as investigating potential atmospheric impacts of flare radiation using ground-based ionospheric monitors, in order to answer some of the biggest outstanding questions in solar flare physics, such as: 

- What are the dominant heating and energy transport mechanisms in the solar chromosphere during solar flares, and at what depth does energy deposition take place?

- How does the energy deposited by nonthermal electrons get redistributed throughout the lower solar atmosphere, and what are the dominant energy loss mechanisms?

- How do different nonthermal electron distributions affect the geoeffective emission generated, and what are the implications for planetary atmospheres, both in our own solar system and beyond?


Solar Orbiter (STIX, EUI, SPICE), SDO (EVE, AIA), GOES-R (EXIS), and archival data, as well as ground-based ionospheric monitors.

Other information

This project is funded through a research grant awarded by the US Air Force. Funding will be provided within the studentship to allow the successful candidate to travel and present their work at national and international conferences and workshops.

QUB staff

Dr. Ryan Milligan (QUB), Prof. Mihalis Mathioudakis (QUB).


For more information contact the primary supervisor Dr. Ryan Milligan (