KL7002 - Advanced Solar Physics

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What will I learn on this module?

This module is designed to provide you with knowledge in special topics in astrophysics at the forefront of the research landscape using a directed learning strategy. The content of the module includes, but is not limited to, theoretical, technical and computational aspects. The module aims at enhancing your skills for independent work, specialist knowledge in astrophysics, critical thinking and appraisal of scientific research outputs.

Outline Syllabus
The content of the coursework will be drawn from areas that map to the research strengths in the Departments of MIS and PEE. The following list is indicative, rather than prescriptive, of the special topics to be covered:

ST1 Advanced Solar Physics
A basic description of the Sun combined with an introduction to the basic equations of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). These form the foundation for a specialist application, for example magnetoconvection and sunspots, magnetic reconnection, dynamo theory or MHD waves and wave phenomena.

ST2 High-energy particle physics in solar flares
Particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection by different types of electric field, such as constant and periodic. Equations of motion: formulation and methods of solution. Particle precipitation into flaring atmospheres for collisional and Ohmic energy losses. Continuity equation: analytical solution by the method of characteristics. Fokker-Planck equation: overview of analytical and numerical solutions.

ST3 Astrophysical Data Analysis
Introduction to Interactive Data Language (IDL) and SolarSoft (industry-standard software), Solar Satellites and Instrumentation, Data Analysis of Astrophysical Observations, The future of Solar Observations

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered using a substantial amount of directed independent learning supported by lectures and seminars. The teaching strategy consists of a rotation system where lectures and seminars are delivered by staff members from the Physics and Electrical Engineering and Mathematics and Information Sciences departments. Each participating member of staff is in charge of one Special Topic.

Lectures are used to introduce an overview of a Special Topic at the forefront of astrophysics along with a contextual background of the current research landscape linked to that topic. Seminars are used to steer the students learning and to give feedback on on-going assignments.

This module provides a collegial environment for active scientific discussion and engagement, thus strengthening your employability through knowledge and critical thinking about special topics in Astrophysics and the current Astrophysics research landscape. This is augmented through technology-enhanced learning opportunities for example use of the industry standard software, Interactive Data Language.

Independent study is supported by further technology-enhanced resources provided via the e-learning portal, including lecture notes and source open-access journal papers. You will be provided with a reading list and a list of aspects of the topic to be further developed as an assignment. Coursework is developed through various routes. An indicative, non-prescriptive, list of activities incudes consultation of textbooks and research papers, mathematical modelling work and computational laboratory work.

The assessment consists of a coursework portfolio (30% 35% and 35%) relating to each ST in Astrophysics covered in the module. Feedback will be provided individually. Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during seminars.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Lectures will be the main point of academic contact, offering you with a formal teaching environment for core learning. Seminars will provide you with opportunities for critical enquiry and exchanges. Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during seminars. Feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to specific questions.

Outside formal scheduled teaching, you will be able to contact the module team (module tutor, year tutor, programme leader) either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme.

Further academic support will be provided through technology-enhanced resources via the e-learning portal. You will have the opportunity to give their feedback formally through periodic staff-student committees and directly to the module tutor at the end of the semester.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

1. No recommendations for purchase by students

2. Books
A reading list will be assigned by each tutor.

• Boyd T and Sanderson J (2003) The Physics of Plasmas, Cambridge University Press

• Lang K (2001) Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Sun, Cambridge University Press

• Priest E R (2000) Solar Magnetohydrodynamics, Kluwer Academic Publishers

• Priest, E R (2014) Magnetohydrodynamics of the Sun, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Revised Edition

• Aschwanden M J (2009) Physics of the Solar Corona, Springer

• Westfall B (2011) University Physics, McGraw-Hill

3. Journal articles
A reading list will be assigned by each tutor.

4. Journal and Newspaper titles
Astronomy and Astrophysics, Solar Physics, Astrophysical Journal Letters, Astrophysical Journal Letters, Space Science Reviews, Journal of Geophysical Research

5. Databases and Websites
Web of Science

6. Any other resources
IT resources for practical work, literature reviews and report writing.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Analyse advanced concepts in astrophysics from areas at the forefront of the discipline, and to apply such ideas to simple problems at a conceptual, mathematical and computational level.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
2. Evaluate the application of special topics in astrophysics in the context of the current research landscape in the field.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
3. Manage your own learning, through knowledge of available reading sources, including advanced texts and research papers and scientific databases.
4. Effectively and concisely communicate complex astrophysics-based ideas in written form.

How will I be assessed?

The assessment consists of a coursework portfolio (100%) relating to each ST in Astrophysics covered in the module. Thus, for three ST, there coursework portfolio will be divided into three summative assessments (worth 30%, 35% and 35%)

1. Coursework (30%)
2. Coursework (35%)
3. Coursework (35%)

1. Seminars 1,2,3,4

Feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to questions.

Written feedback will be provided on coursework.
Formative feedback will be provided during seminars.





Module abstract


Course info

UCAS Code F2W4

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2019 or September 2020

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