Explore our research

  • Solar Physics

    Universe of stars

The Sun, our closest star, is the geometrical and gravitational centre of our Solar System - it provides all the light, heat and energy that is required for life here on Earth. The influence of the Sun extends over a vast region, called the Heliosphere, which includes the solar system planets. Due to the Sun being so near (150 million km, which in astronomical terms is tiny!) we can observe it in immense detail. It is also very important to understand how this celestial object interacts with our planet. The research carried out by the solar group focusses on studying the Sun and how the Sun's activity affects the Earth. The Solar Physics group is part of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute.

Expertise and Subject Areas

The solar physics group are carrying out international research on the Sun’s atmosphere and its impact on the solar system including the Earth.

Our scientific interests include:

  • Dynamics of sunspots
  • Magnetic structure of the solar atmosphere
  • Heating of the solar corona
  • Solar flares and coronal mass ejections
  • Solar energetic particles and their effects on space weather.

Our research makes use of:

  • Space-based observations from satellites including SDO, STEREO and Hinode
  • High resolution imaging of the solar corona from sounding rocket missions including Hi-C
  • Sophisticated computer simulations of the Sun’s corona 
  • Simulations of solar energetic particle propagation using High Performance Computing.

We are involved in a number of international projects including:

  • Hi-C, provision of hardware and expertise via a NASA Space Act Agreement
  • COMESEP, EU FP7 funded project developing a Space Weather Alert System
  • UCLAN SDO data archive, the UK’s only repository for SDO data
  • STEREO HI calibration


Publication information available on the Jeremiah Horrocks institute website.

Courses and Postgraduate Study

Opportunities for postgraduate study within the Solar Physics group are available each year, including for PhD and MSc by Research. Fully funded PhD studentships are offered, as described on the JHI website.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD or MSc by Research in our group, you are welcome to contact Dr Silvia Dalla for an informal discussion of possible projects.


Dr Danielle Bewsher: Transient Transition Region phenomena (eg, blinkers, explosive events, spicules), Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and dimming regions, STEREO/HI calibration

Dr Daniel Brown: Structure of solar magnetic fields, x-ray bright points, rotating sunspots, STEREO/HI calibration

Dr Silvia Dalla: Solar flares and CMEs, energetic particle acceleration during flares, Space weather

Professor Robert Walsh: MHD Simulations, Coronal Heating, Coronal Loops, MHD Waves, HI-C

Research Associates

Dr Timo Laitinen: Solar energetic particle modelling and data analysis

Postgraduate Students

Andrew Walker, Rotating sunspots

Don Doran, Solar Energetic Particles

Peter Zelina, Solar Energetic Particles

Affiliated Members

Martin Birch: Effects of solar particle events within the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere

Dr Barbara Bromage: Emeritus Reader in Solar Physics: Structure and evolution of coronal holes and associated features (eg. plumes and prominences); effect of solar events on the Earth's atmosphere

John Hargreaves: Effects of solar particle events within the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere


Additional Information

Further information can be found at the JHI website.