Physics Professor Zdzislaw Musielak has been awarded a three-year, $301,339 National Science Foundation grant to investigate Alfvén waves in the sun, a phenomenon vital to understanding Earth’s nearest star.
“The sun is the source of energy that sustains all life on Earth, but there is much that remains unknown about it,” says Dr. Musielak, a two-time winner of the international Humboldt Prize for his research into the sun and solar-type stars. “With this research, we hope to explore one of the great mysteries—what forces fuel the heat of the sun’s outer atmosphere and the basic physical processes for creating its magnetic influence on Earth and other planets.”
Alfvén waves are magnetic plasma waves named after Hannes Alfvén, who received a Nobel Prize in 1970. Their existence helps explain why the sun’s corona, or upper atmosphere, is hotter than the solar surface. Understanding Alfvén waves is also crucial to explaining the speed of solar winds, a stream of highly charge particles released into space by the sun.
Read more about the NSF grant to investigate Alfvén waves.