Module Identifier PH38510  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Andrew R Breen  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Andrew R Breen, Professor Shadia R Habbal  
Pre-Requisite Core Physics Modules at Level 2  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
  Other   Workshop. 3 workshops/exercise classes  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours end of semester examination for BSc students  80%
Semester Exam3 Hours end of semester examination for MPhys students  80%
Semester Assessment Course Work: 3 Exercise Classes Coursework Deadlines (by week of Semester): Exercise Class 1 Week 4 Exercise Class 2 Week 8 Exercise Class 3 Week 1020%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:

Brief description

This module examines in detail the physics of our nearest star and of its interaction with the Solar System. Topics covered include the Sun's structure, energy production and transport processes, solar activity, the solar wind and its interaction with planets and comets.


Introduction - The Sun and the Heliosphere (1):
Energy flow through the Sun and Interplanetary Space. Radiation, particles and magnetic field.

Sun (6) :
Structure of the Sun. Nuclear processes in the core. Solar neutrinos. Radiative and Convective zones. Solar seismology. Photosphere and Chromosphere. Sunspots, faculae, plages, prominences, filaments.Babcock-Leighton theory.

Solar Atmosphere (7) :
Corona. Coronal Heating.
Plasma density in corona and interplanetary space.   
Scattering of light in the solar corona. Space-craft measurements.
Irregularities in corona and interplanetary space : Coronal features.
Dynamics of corona: Movement of visible features in the corona Doppler shift of spectral lines.
Coronal Activity: Flares. Solar radio emission. Bursts. X-Rays. Particle emission.

Solar wind and Heliosphere (5) :   
Parker's theory. Solar breeze and solar wind. Effect of conductivity and viscosity. Spiral structure of Interplanetary magnetic field. Acceleration of solar wind near sun. Non-uniform flow and shock fronts. Terminator Shock.
Measurement of the solar wind. Interplanetary Scintillation and in-situ measurements.
Sun-Earth connections: Terrestrial effects of solar variability. Long period variations in activity. Solar wind and cosmic ray shielding. "Space climate".

Comets and Meteoroids (1):
Structure of Comets : Core, Coma, Cloud, Dust Tail, Plasma Tail and Ion Loading. Comets and Meteor Showers.

Transferable skills

Use of solar telescope to observe sunspots.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
M.G. Kivelson & C.T. Russell (eds) (1995) Introduction to Space Physics CUP ISBN 0 521 45714 9
** Supplementary Text
K.R Lang (2001) Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Sun 2001. Cambridge University Press 0 521 78093 4


This module is at CQFW Level 6