PX4207.5 Solar Magnetohydrodynamics
Introductory description
Our knowledge of what is happening in the Sun is increasing rapidly, largely as a result of spacebased instrumentation. The challenge is to understand it. The basic process is simple: Heat moves outwards from its source at the centre (nuclear fusion). However, on its way out, this energy drives processes on many different length scales many of which are not well understood. For example, there is still no convincing theory of how the Sun's magnetic field is generated and how the atmosphere is heated.
The module starts by stating the basic properties of the Sun as deduced from observation and general physical principles, and introduces a hydrodynamic model of the Sun. This treats the solar matter as a fluid. There are the usual gravitational and pressure gradient forces governing the fluid motion but, because the constituent particles of the fluid are charged, there are also electromagnetic forces. As a result, we need to worry about Maxwell's equations as well as Newton's laws. The module then discusses applications of this theory, called magnetohydrodynamics, to model and understand phenomena like sunspots, coronal loops, prominences, solar flares, coronal mass ejections and space weather.
Module aims
To review the basic physics underlying the structure and the dynamics of the Sun, to provide a background in the description of physical processes in the Sun in terms of magnetohydrodynamics and to show the results of recent observations.
Outline syllabus
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
 An outline of observational properties ranging from the solar interior ot the Sun's outer atmosphere
 Theoretical aspects of solar magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
 Magnetic equilibria. Stratification. Forcefree magnetic fields. Magnetic arcades, prominences, suspots, intense flux tubes.
 MHD Waves. Helioseismology.
 Solar flares. Heating of the solar corona. Coronal mass ejections and space weather.
Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
 Describe the structure of the Sun and the main features and phenomena observed on the solar surface and in the solar atmosphere
 Describe the physical processes at work in the sun
 Demonstrate understanding of the dynamic processes operating in the Sun, in terms of MHD
Indicative reading list
Priest E.R., Solar Magnetohydrodynamics; Reidel; 1982.
Golub L., and Pasachoff J.M., Nearest Star: the Surprising Science of our Sun; Harvard Uni. Press; 2001.
View reading list on Talis Aspire
Subject specific skills
Knowledge of mathematics and physics. Skills in modelling, reasoning, thinking.
Transferable skills
Analytical, communication, problemsolving, selfstudy
Study time
Type  Required 

Lectures  15 sessions of 1 hour (20%) 
Private study  60 hours (80%) 
Total  75 hours 
Private study description
Working through lecture notes, solving problems, wider reading, discussing with others taking the module, revising for exam, practising on past exam papers
Costs
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group B1
Weighting  Study time  

2 hour online examination (Summer)  100%  
Answer 2 questions from 3

Feedback on assessment
Personal tutor, group feedback
Courses
This module is Optional for:
 Year 4 of UPXAF304 Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys)
 Year 4 of UPXAF303 Undergraduate Physics (MPhys)
This module is Option list A for:
 Year 3 of UMAAG100 Undergraduate Mathematics (BSc)
 Year 4 of UMAAG101 Undergraduate Mathematics with Intercalated Year
This module is Option list B for:

UMAAG105 Undergraduate Master of Mathematics (with Intercalated Year)
 Year 3 of G105 Mathematics (MMath) with Intercalated Year
 Year 5 of G105 Mathematics (MMath) with Intercalated Year

UMAAG103 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 3 of G103 Mathematics (MMath)
 Year 4 of G103 Mathematics (MMath)

UMAAG106 Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe
 Year 3 of G106 Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe
 Year 4 of G106 Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe
 Year 4 of UPXAFG33 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys)
 Year 4 of UPXAFG31 Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys)