Candidacy Topic -  Space Plasma


(Version, 7/1/2016)

Introduction: The following list of topical areas and subtopics covers Space Plasma Physics, which includes Solar Physics and Magnetospheric Physics. The more specialized topics under Solar and Magnetospheric Physics pertain to students in those respective areas.

Electricity and Magnetism

Maxwell’s Equations: Basic properties, electrostatics, magnetostatics, boundary value problems, waves

Basic Numerical Methods

Roundoff and truncation errors, curve fitting and interpolation, numerical integration, basic linear algebra, solutions to ordinary and partial differential equations

Basic Plasma Physics

• Plasma characteristics:
     Plasma Frequency, Debye Length, coulomb collision frequencies, Spitzer resistivity
• Particle motion in electric and magnetic fields.
     Drifts, adiabatic invariants Waves in plasmas
     Cold unmagnetized and magnetized plasma waves
• Magnetohydrodynamic description of plasma
      MHD Approximation, frozen-in-Flux, MHD equilibria, waves, instabilities, shocks, force and motion in MHD
• Magnetic reconnection
      Basic features, MHD models
• Kinetic Description of plasma
      Vlasov theory, Landau damping, basic kinetic instabilities, the Fokker-Planck equation and binary coulomb collisions

 Solar Physics

• Basic Information About the Sun:
      The radius, mass, and luminosity
      The structure of theinterior
      The structure of theatmosphere
• EUV & X-RayRadiation:
      The coronal model approximation
      Collisional and radiative bound-boundtransitions
     Ionization andrecombination
      Non-equilibrium ionization
      Spectroscopic diagnostics
• Observations:
      Imaging instruments
      Spectroscopic instruments
      Imaging versus spectroscopic
      Remote sensing versus in-situ measurements
• Coronal Heating:
      DC mechanisms
      AC mechanisms
• Coronal Hydrostatics:
      Basic properties of hydrostatic equilibrium
      Isothermal and non-isothermal solutions
      Scaling Law
• Coronal Hydrodynamics:
      The hydrodynamic equations
      The coronal heating and cooling cycle
      Spitzer-Harm conductivity
• Coronal Magnetohydrodynamics:
      Magnetic fields 
      Open versus closed field regions
• Solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections:
      The "Standard Model"
      The role of magnetic reconnection
      Particle acceleration and transport
      Thermal versus non-thermal hard X-ray emission
      The electron distribution
• The Solar Wind:
      The fast and slow solar wind
      The Parker model for steady expansion of the solar corona
      The Parkerspiral

 Magnetospheric Physics

• Basic information about the Magnetosphere
     Magnetopause, bow shock, plasma sheet, ring current, radiation belts, plasmasphere and associated current systems
• Basic information about the Ionosphere
     Structure, Chapman Theory, conductances
• Solar wind magnetosphere interaction
    Energy transfer processes, role of the solar wind and the ionosphere
• The aurora
    Types of aurora, acceleration processes
• Magnetospheric Storms and Substorms
    Definition, basic properties, relation magnetic Indices
• Magnetospheric Convection
    Basic properties, theoretical foundations
• Magnetosphere Ionosphere coupling
    Basic properties, theoretical foundations
• Basic information about the magnetospheres of the other planets
    Rotation dominated planets, Ionosphere dominated planets