Photograph of Dr Xing Li.Dr Xing Li

Lecturer and Visiting Professor at Shandong University at Weihai, China
BSc, PhD (Hefei)


Office: 309, Physical Sciences Building, Penglais Campus
Phone: (0)1970 621 542
Fax: (0)1970 622 826
Personal Web Site:

Teaching Areas

Undergraduate Modules Taught

  • PH15720  Introduction to Computational and Experimental Physics
  • PH28920  Astrophysics and Cosmology 
  • PH32510  Electromagnetism
  • PH39320  Ionised Atmospheres and Space Plasma
  • PH38720  The Sun and Heliosphere
  • PHM2510 Electromagnetic theory 


Coronal heating has been a myth for several decades. The temperature of solar atmosphere at the photo sphere is about only 5000 degrees. However, it reaches about 1 million degree in less than 20000 km above the photosphere. What physical processes are responsible for such a heating? My main research interest is the coronal heating and solar wind acceleration. For this purpose, multi-fluid solar wind modeling is the one of the key tools to understand physical processes in the corona and interplanetary space. One of my major scientific contributions is to find that oxygen ions are not only much faster than protons in the inner corona, and they have a large temperature anisotropy as well. This discovery greatly changes our view of the coronal heating and solar wind acceleration mechanism. Now the preferential acceleration of minor ions in the solar wind is now a well-known fact, even though it is quite counterintuitive. Special attention is paid to the role of ion cyclotron resonance and electromagnetic instabilities in regulating the acceleration and thermal anisotropies of the solar wind ions. I developed a 16-moment solar wind model to study the anisotropy of protons in the fast solar wind.

I am also interested in the broad space plasma physics, such as propagation of plasma waves, plasma instabilities.

We are actively working on the thermal equilibrium of transition region ions and characteristics of the spectral lines of those species. An improved understanding of these ions may be a key for us to unlock the secrets of the corona heating myth.


Dr. Xing Li was born in the People's Republic of China. He was educated in the University of Science and Technology of China at Hefei and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He got his bachelor's and master's degrees of science in plasma physics. His PhD thesis was about the property of minor ions in the fast solar wind. After he completed his PhD study he worked in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a post doctoral fellow and developed solar wind models (wind driven by turbulence-driven ion-cyclotron waves and 16 moment models).

In March 2001, he was appointed as a lecturer in the physics department. His research interests are the coronal and solar wind physics, various plasma waves and instabilities in space plasma and the corona, and multi-fluid and MHD modeling of the corona and wind. A long standing interest is the heating and acceleration mechanisms of the solar wind.

Staff Links



Staff Publications

  • Quanming Lu, Xing Li, ChuanFei Dong, Ion pickup by the intrinsic low-frequency Alfven waves with a spectrum, Chinese Physics B, 18, 1674-1056/2009/18(05)/1-08, 2009.
  • Yao Chen, Xing Li, etc., Intrinsic instabilities of coronal streamers, ApJ, 691, 1936, 2009.
  • Bo Li and Xing Li, Angular momentum transport in a multicomponent solar wind with differentially flowing, thermally anisotropic ions, A&A, 494, 361, 2009.
  • Yao Chen, Xing Li, etc., Intrinsic instabilities of coronal streamers, ApJ, 691, 1936, 2009.
  • Bo Li, Xing Li, Effects of Non-WKB Alfven waves on a multicomponent solar wind with differential ion flow, Astrophysical Journal, 682, 667, 2008.
  • Xing Li, Quanming Lu and Bo Li, Ion pick-up by finite amplitude Alfven waves, Astrophysical Journal Letters, 661, L105, 2007.
  • Quanming Lu and Xing Li, heating of ions by low-frequency Alfven waves, Physics of Plasmas, 14, 42303, 2007.
  • Bo Li and Xing Li, Propagation of non-WKB Alfven waves in a multi-component solar wind with differential ion flow,  Astrophysical Journal, 661, 1222, 2007.
  • Bo Li, Shadia R. Habbal and Xing Li, Angular momentum transport and proton-alpha differential streaming in the solar wind, Astrophysical Journal, 661, 593, 2007.
  • Bo. Li, X. Li and N. Labrosse, A global 2D solar wind model with alpha particles, J. Geophys. Res., 111, A08106, doi:10.1029/2005JA01130, 2006.
  • B. Li and X. Li, Effects of alpha particles on the angular momentum loss from the Sun, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 456, 359, 2006.
  • B. Li, and X. Li, Alfvenic-turbulence-heated magnetic loops: effects of lateral expansion and magnetic twist, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 364 (1839): 533, 2006.
  • Labrosse, N., X. Li, and B. Li, On the Lyman alpha and Lyman beta in solar coronal streamers, Astronomy & Astrophysics, 455: 719-723, 2006.
  • B. Li, S.R. Habbal,  X. Li, C. Mountford, Effect of the latitudinal distribution of temperature at the coronal base on the interplanetary magnetic field configuration and the solar wind flow 
  • Xing Li, Shadia Habbal, Coronal loops heated by turbulence-driven Alfven waves, ApJ Letters, 598, xxx, 2003.
  • Xing Li Transition region, coronal heating and the fast solar wind, A&A, 406, 345, 2003.
  • Y.Q. Hu, X. Li, S.R. Habbal, A 2.5 dimensional MHD Alfven-wave-driven solar wind model, J. Geophys. Res., 108, doiL10.1029/2003JA009889, 2003.
  • Y.Q. Hu, S.R. Habbal, Y. Chen, X. Li, Are coronal holes the only source of fast solar wind at solar minimum?, J. Geophys. Res., 108, doi:10.1029/2002JA009776, 2003.
  • C. J., Mountford, S.R. Habbal, X. Li Effect of solar wind flow geometry on solar wind parameters at 1AU for a low frequency cascade driven solar wind, J. Geophys. Resl, 108, SSH8M, 2003.
  • X. Li, Heating in coronal funnels by ion cyclotron waves, Astrophysical Journal, 571, L67 (2002)
  • L. Allan, X. Li, A three-fluid, 16-moment gyrotropic bi-Maxwellian fast solar wind : the effect of He$^{++}$, in Proceedings of the Tenth International Solar Wind Conference, Pisa, Italy, 17-21 June, 2002, p. 339.
  • X. Li and S. R. Habbal, Damping of fast and ion-cyclotron oblique waves in the multi-ion fast solar wind, J. Geophys. Res., 106, 10669, 2001.
  • X. Li and S. R. Habbal, Electron kinetic firehose instability, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 27,377, 2000.
  • L. A. Allen, S. R. Habbal, and X. Li, Thermal couplings of protons and neutral hydrogen with anisotropic temperatures in the fast solar wind, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 23,123, 2000.
  • X. Li and S. R. Habbal, Ion cyclotron waves, instabilities and solar wind heating, Solar Physics, 190, 485, 1999.
  • X. Li and S. R. Habbal, Proton/alpha magnetosonic instability in the fast solar wind, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 7495, 2000.
  • X. Li, S. R. Habbal, J.V. Hollweg, R. Esser, Heating and cooling of protons by turbulence driven ion cyclotron waves in the fast solar wind, J. Geophys. Res., 104, 2521, 1999.
  • X. Li, J. Geophys. Res., 104, Proton temperature anisotropy in the fast solar wind: A 16-moment bi-Maxwellian model, 19,773, 1999.
  • X. Li, A 16-moment fast solar wind model, Space Sci. Rev., 87, 253, 1999. Y. Q. Hu, S. R. Habbal, and X. Li, On the Cascade Processes of Alfv\'en Waves, J. Geophys. Res., 104, 24819, 1999.
  • S.R. Cranmer, ...,X. Li, ..., An Empirical Model of a Polar Coronal Hole at Solar Minimum, Astrophys. J., 511, 481, 1999.
  • X. Li, S.R. Habbal, J. Kohl and G. Noci, The effect of temperature anisotropy on observations of Doppler dimming and pumping in the inner corona, Astrophysical J., 501, L133, 1998.
  • X. Li, R. Esser, S. Habbal, Y.Q. Hu, Influence of heavy ions on the high speed solar wind, J. Geophys. Res., 102, 17419, 1997.
  • Y.Q. Hu, L.D. Xia, X. Li, Evolution of Magnetic Helicity in Magnetic Reconnection, J.X. Wang, and G.X. Ai, Solar Physics, 170, 283, 1997.