Physics projects for Y3 and Y4 students

Project description

Theory of magnetic reconnection

(supervisor: Youra Taroyan)

Nature of project: theory, software

Available to students on full-time physics degree schemes or joint students.

Project description and methodology

Magnetic reconnection produces some of the most fascinating plasma processes we can observe in the universe. Reconnection can occur in a slowly changing quasi-steady state, which may contribute to coronal heating, but more often happens as a sudden violent process that is manifested as flares and coronal mass ejections.

The project will review the theory of magnetic reconnection with a focus on 2D reconnection. Basic concepts in magnetic reconnection such as magnetic diffusion, evolution of a stagnation point flow and current sheets will be investigated analytically using illustrative examples.

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
The problems will be tackled numerically using a computer program written in IDL. Experience in programming is desirable but not essential. The numerical results will be compared with the analytical results.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: The balance between a stagnation point flow and magnetic diffusion will be explored numerically and tested against the theoretical predictions.

Please speak to Youra Taroyan if you consider doing this project.

Initial literature for students:

  1. Priest, E. Magnetohydrodynamics of the Sun, 2014, Cambridge University Press
  2. Aschwanden, M., Physics of the solar corona, Springer 2005
  3. Stix, M. The Sun, Springer 2002

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

The project is suitable for students interested in analytical or numerical work. A sample program that can be adjusted to the given problems will be provided.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Understanding of the main concepts in reconnection theoryend of October
Theoretical Review and analytical resultsChristmas
Code development and numerical resultsmid-March
Discussion of resultsEaster