RAS Discussion Meeting – 21 February 2014

SDO/AIA images of a filament on the sun from August 31, 2012. From upper left and going clockwise: 335, 171, 304 and 131 Å channels

SDO/AIA images of a filament on the sun from August 31, 2012. From upper left and going clockwise: 335, 171, 304 and 131 Å channels

Solar prominences (also known as filaments) are large structures of the solar atmosphere and one of the most beautiful manifestations of the magnetic field of the Sun. These are cool dense regions of plasma suspended in the corona above magnetic polarity inversion lines. They are a unique example of natural plasma confinement. Prominences are often found in cavities at the base of coronal helmet streamers. These cavities, when seen above the limb, look darker than their surroundings, and might be evidence for the presence of a magnetic flux rope above the polarity inversion line. An important aspect of solar prominences is that they can exist over a wide variety of latitudes from inside active regions all the way to the polar crown, so they are a truly global solar phenomenon. Prominences are a key indicator of non-potential fields and magnetic helicity – they are in fact the only such indicator that can be seen over all latitudes.

For reasons that are still not fully understood, they can suddenly loose equilibrium and erupt, sending huge amounts of magnetised plasma in the interplanetary space. Solar prominences and the free energy associated with them are closely related to two of the most violent phenomena found in the solar system, namely, Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). Hence, prominence eruptions are often associated to important perturbations of the space environment in the heliosphere, including around the Earth, planets and other solar-system bodies. This is what is called “Space Weather”. Due to these effects, understanding the formation of solar filaments and subsequently the origin of Solar Flares and CMEs is of the utmost importance.

Understanding the role played by solar prominences in Space Weather therefore implies understanding how they are formed, how they evolve, and how (and why) they may erupt. It also implies a good understanding of their association with other solar eruptive events.

Addressing these questions relies on interactions between experts in plasma physics, MHD, magnetic field modelling and observation, spectroscopy, radiation transfer, … The aim of the meeting will be to bring researchers from all these areas to bridge the gap existing between these varied fields of expertise. This will be an excellent opportunity to discuss open issues in this area of interest to solar and stellar physicists, keeping in mind recent and future developments in observations and in modelling.

Invited speakers:

  • Brigitte Schmieder (Observatoire de Paris) on Prominence formation and plasma properties
  • Spiro Antiochos (NASA/GSFC) on Prominence magnetic field and heliospheric connection

The abstract submission deadline for oral presentations was Sunday 12 January 2014. You can still register and submit poster abstracts.
Registration and abstract submission

When & Where:
Friday, 21st February 2014, 10:30-16:00. Tea and coffee will be provided after the meeting at 16:00.

Organisers: Nicolas Labrosse (University of Glasgow) and Duncan Mackay (University of St Andrews).