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News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

The end may be in sight for one of the world's longest-running series of manual weather records. The end may be in sight for one of the world's longest-running series of manual weather records. Shane Kelly has been checking the temperature at Armagh Observatory at 09:00 every day for 18 years. But after more than 200 years of tradition, the site is set for a move to automation.


Madjarska M.S.,Armagh Observatory
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2010

Context. Small-scale transient phenomena in the quiet Sun are believed to play an important role in coronal heating and solar wind generation. One of them, called "X-ray jet", is the subject of our study. Aims. We intend to investigate the dynamics, evolution, and physical properties of this phenomenon. Methods. We combine multi-instrument observations obtained simultaneously with the SUMER spectrometer onboard SoHO, with EIS and XRT onboard Hinode, and with EUVI/SECCHI onboard the Ahead and Behind STEREO spacecrafts. We derive plasma parameters such as temperatures and densities as well as dynamics by using spectral lines formed in the temperature range from 10 000 K to 12 MK. We also use an image difference technique to investigate the evolution of the complex structure of the studied phenomenon. Results. With the available unique combination of data we were able to establish that the formation of a jet-like event is triggered by not one, but several energy depositions, which are most probably originating from magnetic reconnection. Each energy deposition is followed by the expulsion of pre-existing or newly reconnected loops and/or collimated flow along open magnetic field lines. We derived in great detail the dynamic process of X-ray jet formation and evolution. For the first time we also found spectroscopically a temperature of 12 MK (Fe xxiii 263.76 Å) and density of 4 × 1010 cm -3 in the quiet Sun, obtained from a pair of Fe xii lines with a maximum formation temperature of 1.3 × 106 K, in an energy deposition region. We point out a problem concerning an uncertainty in using the SUMER Mg x 624.9 Å line for coronal diagnostics. We clearly identified two types of up-flow: one collimated up-flow along open magnetic field lines and a plasma cloud formed from the expelled BP loops. We also report a cooler down-flow along closed magnetic field lines. A comparison is made with a model developed by Moreno-Insertis et al.(2008). © 2010 ESO.


Christou A.A.,Armagh Observatory
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2010

We have generated a list of cometary bodies as well as known meteoroid streams that we consider to be prime candidates for producing significant meteor activity in the atmospheres of Venus and Mars. To compile this list, we defined a quantitative criterion based on catalogued properties of comets such as their dynamical class, orbital period and absolute brightness as well as the proximity of their orbits to the planetary orbits. This procedure improves over previous work that considered only this latter quantity as the sole criterion for meteor shower parentage at those planets. The list of Martian (Venusian) candidates contains six (eight) Halley-type comets, 11 (six) intermediate long-period comets, eight (nine) showers originating from known meteoroid streams of Encke or Jupiter-family type and one inert object in a comet-like orbit. Based on these findings, we conclude that (i) meteor shower activity at those planets would be variable on a seasonal scale, just as it is at the Earth, (ii) Venusian and/or Martian meteor showers from bright long-period comets, a population with no representatives in the Earth's vicinity, are a possibility, and (iii) numerous opportunities exist for sampling known Encke-type and Jupiter-family showers to probe their spatial structure far from the Earth's orbit. We calculate local observing circumstances of these showers to aid in their future observational confirmation and characterization. © 2010 The Author. Journal compilation © 2010 RAS.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 139.28K | Year: 2013

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 583.39K | Year: 2015

This research combines studies of our Sun, Solar System, and Stars (including the evolution of single and binary systems), and the role played by stars as tracers for our understanding of the wider Universe. Brown dwarfs, thought just a few years ago to be incapable of emitting any significant amounts of radio waves, have been discovered putting out extremely bright beams of radio emission. The study of these apparent runts of the main sequence menagerie could hold vital clues to solving long standing conundrums in conventional coronal astrophysics. A key uncertainty in our knowledge of stars is the role of binarity and the interactions of one star with another during their evolution. In this case, at different times, material from one star can flow onto the other (and sometimes vice versa), and more rarely two stars may collide to produce a single more massive object or sometimes a gigantic explosion called a supernova. Such stellar collisions are called mergers, and they lead to objects with unusual chemical composition which contain a fossil record of the two stars joint history or (in the case of a supernova) to an object with short-lived properties that can be used to probe the most distant parts of the Universe. A second aspect of our research concerns the measurement of stellar magnetic fields and the impact of magnetic fields on a stars evolution. The reason why some stars are magnetic, and others less so, remains a mystery, and our work aims to provide reliable data with which to compare the different ideas. A third is the origin, evolution and fate of the most massive stars in the Universe. Their evolution is dominated by powerful stellar winds. Do such stars explode disruptively at the end of their lives, or do they ultimately collapse to produce black holes; and, in either case, what is the effect of the stellar wind on neighbouring stars and the nearby star-forming regions? This work will significantly advance our understanding of stars. Our work on the Sun - our nearest Star - has implications not just for understanding stars generally but also for how processes in our Suns visible atmosphere produce the observed phenomena that ultimately leads to heating of its million-degree Corona and the formation of the Solar Wind. The Sun is a variable star showing a dominant roughly 11-year cycle of magnetic activity between episodes of sunspot maximum and minimum. It is currently observed continuously by a fleet of spacecraft, and our detailed observations from instruments onboard these spacecraft (which cover a very wide range of wavelengths) are designed to improve our understanding of the physics of the Suns atmosphere and the mechanisms by which it produces occasional massive outbursts of mass and energy. Some of these outbursts have huge power, and can lead not just to the visible appearance of aurorae in the Earths upper atmosphere but to potentially damaging effects on spacecraft and large-scale power systems on Earth. The variable magnetic activity of the Sun has broad implications for Earths place in the near-space environment. Lastly, we seek to understand the origin of our planetary system, and the evolution of the small bodies - comets and asteroids (and their debris) - within it. We will study the Trojan asteroids in the orbits of the major planets, for example those of Jupiter and Mars, to test theories of the origin of the Solar System and to understand better how small bodies evolve with time. We will also investigate the detailed processes by which comets decay into meteoroid streams, debris from which may occasionally cross Earths orbit to produce the well-known phenomenon of a meteor shower - the burning up of small pieces of cometary material in the Earths atmosphere. Not only are there interesting scientific reasons to study such objects and their interrelationships with each other in the Solar System, but the study of Earths near-space has important practical benefits.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 306.05K | Year: 2012

This research programme combines projects in Solar Physics, Planetary Science and Stellar and Galactic Astrophysics. These fields encompass studies of our Sun and Solar System, and Stars (including the evolution of both single and binary systems, i.e. two stars orbiting around one another) and the role played by stars as tracers for our understanding of the wider Universe. A key uncertainty in our knowledge is the role of binarity in the evolution of stars, and the interactions of one star with another during their evolution. In this case, at different times, material from one star can flow onto the other (and sometimes vice versa), and more rarely two stars may collide to produce a single more massive object or sometimes a gigantic explosion called a supernova. Such stellar collisions are called mergers, and they lead to objects with unusual chemical composition which contain a fossil record of the two stars joint history or (in the case of a supernova) to an object with short-lived properties that can be used to probe the most distant parts of the Universe. A second area of our research on stars concerns the measurement of stellar magnetic fields, and the impact of magnetic fields on a stars evolution. The reason why some stars are magnetic, and others less so, remains a mystery, and our work aims to provide reliable data with which to compare the different ideas. A third is the origin, evolution and fate of the most massive stars in the Universe. Their evolution is dominated by powerful stellar winds. Do such stars explode disruptively at the end of their lives, or do they ultimately collapse to produce black holes; and, in either case, what is the effect of the stellar wind on neighbouring stars and the nearby star-forming regions? This work will significantly advance our understanding of stars. Our work on the Sun - our nearest Star - has implications not just for understanding stars generally but also for how processes in our Suns visible atmosphere produce the observed phenomena that ultimately leads to heating of its million-degree Corona and the formation of the Solar Wind. The Sun is a variable star showing a dominant roughly 11-year cycle of magnetic activity between episodes of sunspot maximum and minimum. It is currently observed continuously by a fleet of spacecraft, and our detailed observations from instruments onboard these spacecraft (which cover a very wide range of wavelengths) are designed to improve our understanding of the physics of the Suns atmosphere and the mechanisms by which it produces occasional massive outbursts of mass and energy. Some of these outbursts have huge power, and can lead not just to the visible appearance of aurorae in the Earths upper atmosphere but to potentially damaging effects on spacecraft and large-scale power systems on Earth. The variable magnetic activity of the Sun has broad implications for Earths place in the near-space environment. Lastly, we seek to understand the origin of our planetary system, and the evolution of the small bodies - comets and asteroids (and their debris) - within it. We will study the newly discovered populations of small satellites orbiting the giant planets, for example Jupiter and Saturn, to test theories of the origin of our Solar System. We will also investigate the detailed processes by which comets decay into meteoroid streams, debris from which may occasionally cross Earths orbit to produce the well-known phenomenon of a meteor shower - the burning up of small pieces of cometary material in the Earths atmosphere. Not only are there interesting scientific reasons to study such objects and their interrelationships with each other in the Solar System, but the study of Earths near-space astronomical environment has important practical benefits, leading to better understanding of the distribution of small bodies on near-Earth orbits and the time-variable risk of collisions with the Earth.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 42.20K | Year: 2014

In recent years, a wealth of observational data from a range of (highly successful) ground- and satellite-based solar facilities has revealed the perplexing and complex nature of the Suns atmospheric structure and dynamics. This tremendous complexity is a result of the continuous interaction of the plasma motions with the magnetic field. To understand these interactions, we need to observe, model and interpret solar phenomena over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, and in particular establish the links between the small-scale processes and the large-scale phenomena. Solar physics research is very strong in the UK and an area of high priority in the STFC Roadmap. The commissioning of the Rapid Oscillations in Solar Atmosphere imager in 2009 allowed the UK community to expand both its user base of ground-based solar facilities and its exploitation of data from such facilities, which can provide higher spatial and temporal resolution that their satellite-based counterparts. For the future, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), under construction by the US National Solar Observatory with first-light expected in 2019, will be a truly revolutionary facility for ground-based solar physics. It will operate in the optical and near-infrared and be the pre-eminent ground-based solar telescope for the foreseeable future. Key advances in its instrumentation over that currently available include ultra-high spatial (25 km on the solar surface) and temporal (millisecond) resolution, high resolution imaging spectroscopy and coronal magnetometry. The first-light science objectives of the ATST are at the core of UK solar physics research programmes, and it is clearly important for the UK community to have access to the facility to remain competitive. Current UK-led technology has been highlighted as the best option for detectors meeting the science requirements of the ATST. In this proposal we aim to secure UK participation in the ATST and maximise the science return for the UK community at the time of first-light. This will be achieved by a joint programme, funded by STFC, a consortium of UK universities/research institute and industry (Andor Technology plc), on the development of new state-of-the-art detectors for the ATST, plus a set of software tools that will allow the optimal planning of ATST observations and the processing of the resultant datasets. The main academic benefit for the UK will be dedicated observing time on the world-leading ATST facility, which our solar physics community will be in an excellent position to exploit. In terms of non-academic benefit, the proposed detector development will have a significant socio-economic impact and is therefore in line with the STFC strategy for economic growth through innovation. It will open new technological markets and provide growth and diversity in existing detector markets.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 9.06K | Year: 2015

Astronomers undertake observations with a view to discovering new phenomena and to test predictions of theoretical models. Astronomers in Armagh make observations of the Sun with a view to better understanding the nature of flares and how they may impact on space weather. They also undertake surveys to identify stars which are varying in their flux on short timescales. These stellar systems can, for instance, be sources or intense gravitational radiation or pulsating stars. Other observations are made to study specific stars in detail to determine what they are made from and the structure of their magnetic field. Closer to home, observations are made to study small objects in the Solar System which gives insight to how the planets were made and how they evolve over time.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 144.51K | Year: 2015

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 70.87K | Year: 2015

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.

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