The Mysteries of the Sun: Explosions on our Closest Star
Lindsay Glesener, University of Minnesota
The Sun offers us a special window into the universe, allowing us to study the physics at work in many astronomical objects, but it is nearby and relatively easier to measure. Beyond this, there is a practical urgency to understanding the Sun because it is the driver of the space weather that surrounds and affects the Earth. Solar eruptions regularly hit the Earth’s magnetic field with large amounts of energy, plasma, and radiation. The origin of these events lies in abrupt releases of magnetic energy on the Sun called solar flares. One of the largest events recorded was the Carrington flare of 1859, which would catastrophically disrupt modern technology if it were to happen today. In this talk, I will describe what we currently know about the physics behind flares and what we hope to learn in the future with new instruments that measure high-energy radiation. I’ll also explore the routes by which telescopes are tested on sub-orbital platforms before they finally become ready for the limelight aboard a NASA or ESA spacecraft.
Lindsay Glesener earned her undergraduate degree in physics at San Francisco State University and her Ph.D. in physics at the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. For her thesis work she was honored with the Tomkins Instrumentation Thesis Prize from the Royal Astronomical Society. She joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy in late 2015. Dr. Glesener analyzes data from ground-based and space-based solar observatories, and also develops technology for new instruments. She is the principal investigator for X-ray instruments that fly on sounding rockets and small CubeSats to study the Sun.