Philippa Browning is a Professor of Astrophysics in The University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. Philippa studies the interactions between magnetic fields and plasmas. She aims to explain why the outer atmosphere of the Sun – the solar corona – is heated to millions of degrees, and to understand the most powerful explosions in the solar system: solar flares.
Explosions on the Sun
Solar flares are the most energetic ͞explosions͟in the solar system. A rapid release of stored magnetic energy creates very hot plasma and high-energy particle beams. 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. But many puzzles remain! Flares affect the Earth and our space environment in many ways, in a process known as ͞space weather͟. Furthermore, the combined effect of many small flares may explain the mystery of the high temperature of the solar corona. Philippa is a leading expert in the physics of the Sun and will discuss some of the most recent work on the active Sun.