Mathematics

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MTHM045 - Space Weather and Plasmas (2018)

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MODULE TITLESpace Weather and Plasmas CREDIT VALUE15
MODULE CODEMTHM045 MODULE CONVENERDr Claire Foullon (Coordinator)
DURATION: TERM 1 2 3
DURATION: WEEKS 0 11 0
Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 8
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content

Major new discoveries and knowledge gained from space missions and ground-based observations, theory, and modeling are providing a wealth of engaging and inspiring topics for mathematicians and physicists to explore the physics of our space environment. This module includes interactive experiments (in-class demonstrations and online tools for independent study) while dealing with the mathematics of heliospheric physics, covering the solar wind, Sun-Earth relations and space weather. Heliospheric physics is a major application of the field of magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) but can go beyond MHD and captures fundamentals of plasma physics.


Prerequisite module: ECMM731 or equivalent.

Other helpful or related modules that may lead to interest in taking this module are ECM3730, ECMM725, PHY2021, PHYM012.

AIMS - intentions of the module

To introduce the rapidly changing field of heliophysics, space weather and space plasma physics, to capture fundamentals of plasma physics by giving an extended view of the applications of MHD and the subject of electrically conducting fluid dynamics, to review the basic physics underlying the dynamics of the Sun, to provide a background in the description of physical processes in the solar system in terms of MHD and to show the results of recent observations.

The module will complement several modules taught in term 1 in Maths (e.g. ECMM731) and Physics (e.g. PHYM012).

INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to:


Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:

1 Know the main features and phenomena observed on the solar surface, in the solar atmosphere and in the heliosphere;

 

2 Understand and be able to describe the basic physical processes at work and the basic dynamic processes operating in the solar system, in terms of MHD;

 

3 Be able to define the concepts and equations governing the interaction of solar system plasmas and the solar activity effects on weather;

   
4 Develop and analyse models exploiting ideas connecting physics, geophysics and astrophysics, natural sciences, physics of the weather, and applied mathematics.

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:

3 formulate a real physical problem mathematically;

4 explain mathematical solutions in terms of physical effects.

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:

5 develop communication skills via in class discussions;

6 practise time management skills in order to meet coursework deadlines.

SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module

Introduction:

- Introductions to Space Plasmas and to Heliophysics;

- Basics of MHD Equations and Magnetohydrostatics (reminders), e.g. Induction Equation, Lorentz force, Plasma Beta, Force-free fields;
- Space Weather: space storms and radiation.


Solar MHD: Structures of the magnetic field:

- Force-free arcades
- Prominences (properties and model);
- Intense flux tubes and sunspots (properties and simple model);

- Grad-Shafranov equation.

Solar MHD: Magnetic field reconnection and Solar Flares:

- Collapse of X-Points;

- Magnetic Field above Sunspots;

- MHD Instabilities;

- Flare Properties.


Solar Wind:

- History;

- Parker's isothermal model (also adiabatic model);

- The structure and evolution of the three-dimensional solar wind.

 

Magnetospheric Physics:
 

- Basics of Geophysics (reminders), e.g.  Structure, composition and basic dynamics within Earth's core and mantle;

- Fundamentals of planetary magnetospheres/ Comparative planetary environments;

- Solar-wind magnetosphere coupling: an MHD perspective.

 

Space Weather Models

 

- Models of coronal mass ejections and flares;

- Shocks in Heliophysics.

LEARNING AND TEACHING
LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS (given in hours of study time)
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities 33.00 Guided Independent Study 117.00 Placement / Study Abroad 0.00
DETAILS OF LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS
Category Hours of study time Description
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 27 Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities 6 Example Classes
Guided independent study 30 Problem Sheets
Guided independent study 87 Reading, Revision, preparation

 

ASSESSMENT
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Problem sheets containing a mixture of short answer questions and more comprehensive exercises 6 hours/4 questions per problem sheet (3 sheets) 1-6 Feedback comments on individual student work; Examples class, solutions and general comments uploaded to ELE
       
       
       
       

 

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT (% of credit)
Coursework 0 Written Exams 100 Practical Exams 0
DETAILS OF SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Written exam – closed book 100 2 hours - Summer Exam Period 1-4 Oral on request
         
         
         
         

 

DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-assessment
Written Exam Written Exam All August Ref/Def Period
       
       

 

RE-ASSESSMENT NOTES

Referred and deferred assessment will be by examination. For referrals, only the examination will count, a mark of 50% being awarded if the examination is passed. For deferrals, candidates will be awarded the higher of the deferred examination mark or the deferred examination mark combined with the original coursework mark.

RESOURCES
INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener

Basic reading:

 

ELE: http://vle.exeter.ac.uk/

 

Web based and Electronic Resources:

 

Other Resources:

 

Reading list for this module:

Type Author Title Edition Publisher Year ISBN Search
Set Priest, E Solar Magnetohydrodynamics Forum Library 523.7 PRI D. Reidel publishing company 1982 902771374X [Library]
Set Priest, E Magnetohydro-dynamics of the Sun Forum Library 538.6 PRI Cambridge University Press 2014 9780521854719 [Library]
Set Schrijver C.J. & Siscoe G. Heliophysics 1: plasma physics of the local cosmos Library online Cambridge University Press 2009 9781107340657 [Library]
Set Schrijver C.J. & Siscoe G. Heliophysics 2: space storms and radiation: causes and effects Library online Cambridge University Press 2010 9781139194532 [Library]
Set Schrijver C.J. & Siscoe G. Heliophysics 3: evolving solar activity and the climates of space and earth Library online Cambridge University Press 2010 9780511760358 [Library]
Set Russell C.T., Luhmann J.G., Strangeway R.J. Space Physics: An Introduction Forum Library 523.01 RUS or 523 Cambridge University Press 2016 9781107098824 [Library]
CREDIT VALUE 15 ECTS VALUE 7.5
PRE-REQUISITE MODULES MTHM031
CO-REQUISITE MODULES
NQF LEVEL (FHEQ) 7 AVAILABLE AS DISTANCE LEARNING No
ORIGIN DATE Thursday 22 February 2018 LAST REVISION DATE Thursday 28 February 2019
KEY WORDS SEARCH Space plasmas; Plasma Physics; MHD; magnetic fields; Sun; solar system; heliophysics; space weather; solar energetic particles; solar wind; Solar activity: Weather -- Effect of solar activity on: Heliosphere (Astrophysics); Solar-terrestrial physics; appl