Imperial College Space and Atmospheric Physics

André Balogh's Web Pages

Course outline

1. Introduction

The subject of Space Physics; the sun and the solar corona, the solar wind and the heliosphere; the Earth's ionosphere; planetary magnetospheres.

2. Physics of Solar System Plasmas

Origins; quasi-neutrality; motion of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields; drift motion; plasma as an ion-electron gas; equations of conservation of mass, momentum and energy; the fluid description of a plasma; Maxwell's equations applied to a plasma; electromagnetic force on a plasma; magnetic tension and pressure; the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) approximation and frozen-in flows; MHD wave modes; shock waves.

3. Physics of the Solar Corona and the Origin of the Solar Wind

Atmospheres in hydrostatic equilibrium; plasma and magnetic structures in the solar corona; the origin of the solar wind and Parker's isothermal solar wind solution; the solar cycle dependence of solar phenomena.

4. Physics of the Heliosphere

The solar wind and the heliospheric magnetic field; fast and slow solar wind streams; corotating and transient disturbances in the solar wind; solar cycle effects; the boundary of the heliosphere with the Local Interstellar Medium.

5. Physics of the Earth’s Ionosphere

Formation of the ionosphere; photoionisation and the Chapman production function; ionisation by energetic particles; loss mechanisms; conductivity and current systems; ionosondes.

6. Physics of Planetary Magnetospheres

The Chapman-Ferraro problem; the interaction of the solar wind with the magnetosphere; bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetopause, magnetosphere, magnetospheric tail; plasma flows due to corotation and solar wind-driven convection; radiation belts.

7. Solar-Terrestrial Physics and Space Weather

Geophysical effects of solar phenomena; some practical effects of Space Weather phenomena; solar cycle dependence of geophysical effects; problems with forecasting Space Weather.

André Balogh 18 December 1998.