Solar Intern Program Project:
 Title:CME Kinematics

Type of Project: Data Analysis

Skills/Interest Required: Interest in analyzing imaging and spectral data obtained by space missions. No advanced programming skills required.

Mentor: Dr. Kamen Kozarev



Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are the biggest impulsive releases of energy and hot ionized gas in the heliosphere, and one of the main drivers of space weather. They are known to often drive shock waves, which produce high energy solar energetic particles (SEPs) - the main source of impulsive radiation in interplanetary space. Recent studies have suggested a significant (if not dominant) fraction of the SEP fluxes may be produced low in the corona, in the initial stages of CMEs. At the same time, predicting SEP fluxes at Earth and elsewhere in the heliosphere is an important goal of space weather research.


The goal of this project is to use high resolution, high cadence remote EUV observations to characterize the kinematics and overexpansion of CMEs low in the corona, and relate them to the brightness of the sheath and pile up compression region between the shock front and the CME flux rope. The student will update and study a database of off-limb CME events with coronal waves using data from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite, as well as other (radio, X-ray) observations. The student will characterize the kinematics and temperature response of the plasma, in order to determine the presence and strength of shock waves, and use this information to model shock particle acceleration in the low corona.


A sequence of three base difference extreme UV (EUV) images, showing the evolution of a dome-like coronal wave front expanding outward during a solar flare, which was driven by a coronal mass ejection coming behind it from the Sun. Using the base differencing technique, in which two images at different times are subtracted from each other to enhance any temporal changes, is very important for detecting and characterizing these very faint phenomena. Such coronal wave fronts are the observational signatures of magnetohydrodynamic shocks, thought responsible for producing high-energy ions and electrons that are very hazardous for space exploration.


Kozarev et al., ApJL, 2011, 733, L25

Kozarev et al., ApJ, 2013, 778, L43


Section Photo