Research, Projects

Scientific Work/ Research Concentrations

The Research focus of extraterrestrial physics is to understand the varying particle populations in the Heliosphere and their effects on the earth and people.  These populations span the entire energy range from solar wind to high-energy galactic cosmic rays.  We research the composition, velocity, energy, and directional distribution as well as the time variations of these particle populations at different places in the heliosphere.

From Kiel To Space

The data from these experiments allow us to make inferences into the sources, acceleration and transport processes of the structure of the Heliosphere, as well about the modulation of high-energy galactic cosmic rays through the heliosphere and the shielding effects from earth's magnetic field. Further, the current instruments in space, near earth orbit, our atmosphere, and on the ground should allow us to better understand the functional chain of larger particle events from the sun to earth.

Find out more about our work on the websites of our different research groups. (Links below.)


Projects and Missions

The Heliosphere as a Laboratory

The development and construction of instruments for the In-Situ-measurement of high-energy particles in the plasma of the heliosphere has a long tradition in extraterrestrial physics at the University of Kiel.  With the support of the German Center for Aviation and Space Flight (DLR), a whole series of instruments have been developed and built since the 1970's. The data obtained from these projects is analyzed and interpreted through either the German Research Foundation (DFG), in house, or with cooperation from the international community.

In addition to the missions, in house projects, and preparations for new missions also take place.

Additionally, there is an ongoing commitment of students to BEXUS Ballon missions:

TANOS (2019)

FANS (2020)

 


The Research Goals and Questions of the Missions

The Injection of Suprathermal Particles in the Acceleration Process for High-Energy Particles

Which particles will be further accelerated? Today we know that high-energy particles are not accelerated directly from the solar wind, rather they very probably come from a reservoir of suprathermal particles which is constantly replenished through eruptive solar processes. These suprathermal particles are being researched with SWICS, PLASTIC, STICS, SEPT, EPHIN and (H)STOF. How are these particles injected and further accelerated in this process?

The Acceleration of Particles to High Energies (> 0.1 MeV/nuc) in Eruptive Solar Events or in Interplanetary Shock Waves

The constant reconfiguration of the solar magnetic fields regularly leads to sudden releases of the energy stored in these fields. This happens particularly often during solar maximums and times of increased sun spot number. This can cause particles to be accelerated to very high energies, often triggering atomic reactions, at which times coronal shock waves are also often observed, which themselves accelerate particles that are then further propelled by Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

The Propagation Characteristics of Energetic Particles in Various Types of Solar Winds.

Particles accelerated on wave fronts, solar flares, or planetary magnetospheres, as well as galactic cosmic rays and other anomalous components all propagate through the heliosphere. How exactly these particles propagate are determined by complicated microscopic plasma physics processes and wave-particle interactions. Because the different types of solar wind are also differentiated by these characteristics, the propagation characteristics must then also be differentiated.

The Three-Dimensional Structure of the Heliosphere.

In addition to microscopic characteristics, the global configuration on the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) also determines the propagation characteristics of energetic particles in the Heliosphere. On one hand the IMF is carried away from the sun by the solar wind, and therefore is influenced by the solar wind itself.  On the other hand it is also influence by the increased presence of energetic particles, which complicates understanding the three-dimensional structure of the heliosphere.