Solar and Heliospheric Physics
The Sun is our nearest star and it is the main source for life on Earth. The Sun is also a special star in astrophysics due to its proximity, so that we can spatially resolve and study the dynamics of its surface. The solar wind, a flow of charged particles permanently emanating from the Sun, shapes our heliosphere, i.e. the interplanetary space surrounding our Sun and extending beyond the orbit of the outer planets. The continuous solar wind flow is intermittently interrupted by huge expulsions of magnetized plasma from the Sun, so-called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). In addition, sudden enhancements of the Sun's high-energy radiation may occur in the form of flares. CMEs and solar flares are the most energetic phenomena in our solar system, and they may cause severe disturbances of the space weather in our Earth environment. The physical driver behind all these energetic phenomena lies in the Sun's magnetic field and instabilities.
The solar and heliospheric group at the University of Graz conducts research on the following topics: