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www.ieap.uni-kiel.de/et/ | 13. 12. 2019

Extraterrestrische Physik am IEAP der CAU

Fahne Deutschland


Scientific Emphasis/ Research Focus

The research focus of the Extraterrestrial Physics department is the understanding of various particle populations in the heliosphere and their effect on the earth and people. These populations include the whole energy field from solar wind to the high energy galactic cosmic radiation. We research the composition, speed distribution, energy distribution, and direction distribution, as well as time variation of these particle populations in different locations in the heliosphere

Conclusions can be drawn from the research data about the sources, acceleration and transportation processes, the structure of the heliosphere, and also about the modulation of the galactic cosmic radiation through the heliosphere and the screening through the earth’s magnetic field.

You can find out more on the pages of the individual work groups (selection on the left or in the menu above).


Projects und Missions

The heliosphere as laboratory

A long tradition in the department of extraterrestrial physics at the CAU is the development and fabrication of instruments for the in-situ measurements of high energy particles in the heliosphere plasma. Supported by the German Aerospace Center (DLR, Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), a series of Instruments have been developed and built since the 70’s. The data that was gained through this was analysed and interpreted locally or in international cooperation, supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Besides the missions, local projects are also taking place, partly in preparation for new missions


Research Goals and the Missions’ main Questions

The injection of suprathermal particles in the acceleration process of high energy particles

Which particles are further accelerated? We know today that the high energy particles are not directly accelerated out of the solar wind, but probably from a reservoir of suprathermal particles that is constantly being refilled by solar eruption processes. These suprathermal particles are researched with SWICS, PLASTIC, STICS, SEPT, EPHIN and (H)STOF. How are the particles fed into the acceleration process and further accelerated

The acceleration of particles to high energies (> 0.1 MeV/nuc) in eruptive solar events or at interplanetary shock fronts

The continual reconfiguration of the solar magnetic field frequently leads to a sudden release of energy stored in the magnetic field. This is especially common at times of maximum solar activity, or when there are a high number of sunspots. This can cause particles to be accelerated to very high speeds, often triggering nuclear reactions themselves. Coronal shock fronts can also occur, which likewise accelerate particles and are driven from coronal mass ejections, (CMEs).

The dispersion characteristics of high energy particles in different types of solar wind

The particles accelerated from shock fronts, solar flares, or planetary magnetospheres, as well as galactic cosmic radiation and its abnormal components disperse throughout the heliosphere. How they disperse is microscopically determined by complicated processes of plasma physics and wave-particle interaction. Because the different types of solar wind vary according to these characteristics, the dispersion characteristics also have to vary.

The three dimensional structure of the heliosphere

Aside from the microscopic characteristics, the global configuration of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) also determines the dispersion characteristics of high energy particles in the heliosphere. On the one hand, the IMF is carried away from the sun by the solar wind and therefore influenced by the solar wind itself. On the other hand, the IMF is influenced by the increased presence of high energy particles. This makes an understanding of the three dimensional structure of the heliosphere more difficult.