Philippa Browning was the first woman appointed as a physics lecturer in a Manchester University. She has spent her career studying the interactions between very hot gas, “plasma”,with magnetic fields: aiming to understand both activity in the atmosphere of the Sun, particularly solar flares, and magnetically-confined fusion reactors which may provide a future source of clean energy. This work has led to over 110 scientific papers, and she has been awarded the Chapman medal by the RoyalAstronomical Society. She teaches physics and astronomy to undergraduate students, as well as having supervised many PhD students, and regards inspiring the next generation of scientists as one of the most important aspects of her work. She enjoys music and walking, and has recently completed the Wales Coast Path.
The weather in space–solar flares and their effects on Earth
Solar flares are dramatic explosions in the outer atmosphere of the Sun–the solar corona. They produce electromagnetic radiation and beams of high-energy charged particles, which can have serious detrimental effects on space instrumentation and on power systems and communication onEarth. Since the first solar flare was observed in 1859, we have learnt a lot about how flares work, especially from telescopes in space. We now know that flares result from the release of a vast amount of energy stored in the coronal magnetic field. How does this happen? How may flares affect us, and the technology we rely on? What do recent space missions and computer modelling tell us about flares? Come along to the talk and find out.