MinXSS CubeSat
In Space, currently orbiting Earth
Solar Atmospheric Studies

The solar corona is the outer atmosphere of the Sun and is hotter than the suface of the Sun (the photosphere). To be more specific, the corona is over 1,000,000 Kelvin (over 1.8 million degrees fahrenheit), while the photosphere is around 6,000 K (10 thousand degrees fahrenheit). The solar corona is less dense than the solar photosphere and thus much dimmer (the photosphere is 1 million times brighter than the corona). So the unaided human eye (the human eye without the aid of external optics like telescopes or binoculars), just observes the bright solar disc in visible light (never stare at the Sun without eclipse glases or other special Sun viewing equipment!!). Only when the light from the solar disc is blocked out, can the corona be easily viewed by the naked eye in visible light. This happens during solar eclipses (see video from the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse below).

The video below is the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

The high temperature of the corona leads to high energy light emission. Ultraviolet and X-rays to be exact. Theses emissions are direct probes to the physical conditions of the plasma that created them. In general the high temperature plasma is confined by the near-surface magnetic fields in the atmosphere and change orientation over many timescales (seconds, minutes, hours , days and years). Below is a video depicting the monthly and yearly variations measured by the YohKoh satellite mission's Soft X-ray Telescope.

The video below is the solar coronal X-rays over an 11-year solar cycle.

My current research studies

I am interested in the near surface solar magnetic field (strength, structure, evolution), the fundamental physical processes that drive the dynamics in the solar atmosphere (energy dissipation, plasma transport, etc.) and how their corresponding signatures manifest themselves in observables like radiation (especially X-rays and ultraviolet radiation).

Below is a video comparing the Hinode X-ray Telescope (XRT) Be-thin, the first Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS-1) CubeSat, Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) 17.1 nm and Geostationary Environmental Satellites (GOES) X-ray Sensor (XRS) 0.1 - 0.8 nm data. Top left panel shows the MinXSS-1 X123 derived photon energy flux from photon energies greater than 1 keV at 1 AU (in mks units - W m-2). Also in the top left panel are GOES XRS 0.1 - 0.8 nm energy flux (W m-2), XRT Be-thin (scaled for display purposes) data rate (DN s-1 sr-1), and the SDO AIA 17.1 nm (scaled for display purposes) data rate (DN s-1 sr-1). The MinXSS-1 photon spectral flux is displayed in the top right panel. The bottom left panel contains the AIA 17.1 nm images and the bottom right the XRT Be-thin images. These data are the closets in time with the Hinode XRT Be-thin full Sun synoptic program (roughly two images per day) over the MinXSS-1 mission. Aside from noisy MinXSS-1 data points, the data trend well with the XRT Be-thin, GOES 0.1 - 0.8 nm flux, and the subtle variations in the AIA 17.1 nm data.

I am still updating this portion of the webpage! To be finished soon.