Dr Xing Li
BSc, PhD (Hefei)

Dr Xing Li

Senior Lecturer

Contact Details


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. His current research interests are space plasma turbulence at very small scales where energy dissipation of turbulent fluctuations and particle heating are possible.



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.

Research Groups


Multi-point analysis of compressive fluctuations in the fast and slow solar wind: Compressive turbulence in the solar windRoberts, O. W., Narita, Y., Li, X., Escoubet, C. P. & Laakso, H. 2017 In : Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.122, 7, p. 6940-696324 p.
Electrostatic and electromagnetic fluctuations detected inside magnetic flux ropes during magnetic reconnectionWang, R., Lu, Q., Nakamura, R., Huang, C., Li, X., Wu, M., Du, A., Gao, X. & Wang, S. 2016 In : Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.121, 10, p. 9473-94829 p.
Observation of an MHD Alfvén vortex in the slow solar windRoberts, O., Li, X., Alexandrova, O. & Li, B. 2016 In : Journal of Geophysical Research.121, 5, p. 3870-3881
Sources of quasi-periodic propagating disturbances above a solar polar coronal holeJiao, F., Xia, L., Li, B., Huang, Z., Li, X., Chandrashekhar, K., Mou, C. & Fu, H. 2015 In : Astrophysical Journal Letters.809, 1, 5 p.
Coronal Sources and In Situ Properties of the Solar Winds Sampled by ACE During 1999 - 2008Fu, H., Li, B., Li, X., Huang, Z., Mou, C., Jiao, F. & Xia, L. 2015 In : Solar Physics.290, 5, p. 1399-141516 p.
A Statistical Study of the Solar Wind Turbulence at Ion Kinetic Scales Using the k-filtering Technique and Cluster DataRoberts, O., Li, X. & Jeska, L. 2015 In : Astrophysical Journal.802, 1, p. 1-1313 p.
Evidence of the Ion Cyclotron Resonance at Proton Kinetic Scales in the Solar WindRoberts, O. & Li, X. 2015 In : Astrophysical Journal.802, 1, p. 1-1111 p.
Validation of the k-filtering technique for a signal composed of random phase plane waves and non-random coherent structuresRoberts, O. W., Li, X. & Jeska, L. 2014 In : Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems.3, 2, p. 435-45420 p.
Observation of double layer in the separatrix region during magnetic reconnectionWang, R., Lu, Q., Khotyaintsev, Y. V., Volwerk, M., Du, A., Nakamura, R., Gonzalez, W. D., Sun, X., Baumjohann, W., Li, X., Zhang, T., Fazakerley, A. N., Huang, C. & Wu, M. 2014 In : Geophysical Research Letters.41, 14, p. 4851-48588 p.
Parallel-cascade-based mechanisms for heating solar coronal loops: test against observationsLi, B., Xie, H., Li, X. & Xia, L-D. 2014 In : Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series.488, p. 155-1551 p.
A Solar Eruption Driven by Rapid Sunspot RotationRuan, G., Chen, Y., Wang, S., Zhang, H., Li, G., Jing, J., Su, J., Li, X., Xu, H., Du, G. & Wang, H. 2014 In : Astrophysical Journal.784, 2, 165
Ion Dynamics during the Parametric Instabilities of a Left-hand Polarized Alfvén Wave in a Proton-Electron-Alpha PlasmaGao, X., Lu, Q., Li, X., Hao, Y., Tao, X. & Wang, S. 2014 In : Astrophysical Journal.780, 1, 56
太阳风加速与太阳开场区日冕加热Li, B. & Li, X. 2013 Beijing: Science Press. 24 p.
Parametric instability of a monochromatic Alfven wave: Perpendicular decay in low beta plasmaGao, X., Lu, Q., Li, X., Shan, L. & Wang, S. 2013 In : Physics of Plasmas.20, 7 p., 072092
KINETIC PLASMA TURBULENCE IN THE FAST SOLAR WIND MEASURED BY CLUSTERRoberts, O. W., Li, X. & Li, B. 2013 In : Astrophysical Journal.769, 1, 8 p., 58
Electromagnetic Proton/Proton Instability and Its Implications for Ion Heating in the Extended Fast Solar WindGao, X., Lu, Q., Li, X., Shan, L. & Wang, S. 2013 In : Astrophysical Journal.764, 1, p. 71-767 p., 10.1088/0004-637X/764/1/71
A Solar Tornado Observed by AIA/SDO: Rotational Flow and Evolution of Magnetic Helicity in a Prominence and CavityLi, X., Morgan, H., Leonard, D. & Jeska, L. 2012 In : Astrophysical Journal.752, 2, 5 p., L22
A huge solar tornado observed by Solar Dynamic ObservatoryLi, X., Morgan, H., Leonard, D. & Jeska, L. 2012
Heating and deceleration of minor ions in the extended fast solar wind by oblique Alfvén wavesLi, X. & Lu, Q. M. 2010 In : Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.115, A8, p. 1-77 p.
STREAMER WAVES DRIVEN BY CORONAL MASS EJECTIONSChen, Y., Song, H. Q., Li, B., Xia, L. D., Wu, Z., Fu, H. & Li, X. 2010 In : Astrophysical Journal.714, 1
Observations of energetic electrons up to 200 keV associated with a secondary island near the center of an ion diffusion region: A Cluster case studyWang, R., Lu, Q., Li, X., Huang, C. & Wang, S. 2010 In : Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.115, A11201
A kinetic alfvén wave and the proton distribution function in the fast solar windLi, X., Lu, Q., Chen, Y., Li, B. & Xia, L. 2010 In : Astrophysical Journal.719, p. L190-L193
Two-dimensional hybrid simulations of the oblique electromagnetic alpha/proton instability in the solar windLu, Q., Du, A. & Li, X. 2009 In : Physics of Plasmas.16, 4, 42901
Intrinsic instability of coronal streamersChen, Y., Li, X., Song, H. Q., Shi, Q. Q., Feng, S. W. & Xia, L. D. 2009 In : Astrophysical Journal.691, 2, p. 1936-19427 p.
Angular momentum transport in a multicomponent solar wind with differentially flowing, thermally anisotropic ionsLi, B. & Li, X. 2009 In : Astronomy and Astrophysics.494, 1, p. 361-37111 p.
Observational constraints on the theories of solar wind accelerationLi, X. 2008 Solar and space physics workshop: space plasma physics.
Effects of Non-WKB Alfvén Waves on a Multicomponent Solar Wind with Differential Ion FlowLi, B. & Li, X. 2008 In : Astrophysical Journal.682, 1, p. 667-67812 p.
Steepening of Alfvenic spectrum in the dissipation range and the nature of the proton heat flux in the solar windLi, X. 2008 UK National Astronomy meeting.
Ion Pickup by Finite Amplitude Parallel Propagating Alfven WavesLi, X., Lu, Q. M. & Li, B. 2007 In : Astrophysical Journal Letters.661, 1, p. L105-L108
Hybrid simulation of ion cyclotron resonance in the solar wind: evolution of velocity distribution functionsLi, X. & Habbal, S. R. 2005 In : Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.110, A10
Hydrogen Lyα Intensity Oscillations Observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Ultraviolet Coronagraph SpectrometerMorgan, H., Habbal, S. R. & Li, X. 2004 In : Astrophysical Journal.605, 1, p. 521-527
Coronal loops heated by turbulence-driven Alfven wavesHabbal, S. R. & Li, X. 2003 In : Astrophysical Journal Letters.598, 2, p. L125-L128
Transition region, coronal heating and the fast solar windLi, X. 2003 In : Astronomy and Astrophysics.406, 1, p. 345-35612 p.