Modelling Explosive Energy Release in the Sun’s Atmosphere

Closing Date: 23 April 2021Apply Now

PhD Opportunity

We invite applications for a PhD Scholarship in Solar Astrophysics under the supervision of A/Prof David Pontin in the Centre for Space Physics at the University of Newcastle. The project will address explosive energy release in the Sun’s atmosphere.

Eruption on Sun

The corona - the outer atmosphere of the Sun - is a dynamic plasma permeated by a magnetic field. Energy stored in the coronal magnetic field powers a range of explosive phenomena such as jets, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections. The release of this stored magnetic energy is also responsible for heating the plasma to millions of degrees Kelvin as well as accelerating the “solar wind” outwards across the solar system. Powerful explosions in the solar corona lead to major space weather events at Earth, creating the Northern and Southern lights. However, they also have potentially damaging economic impacts on engineered systems, ranging from satellites and communication systems to power grids and pipelines.

Whilst it is now known that the magnetic field of the Sun’s corona has a complex and continually evolving structure, the nature and implications of this complexity remain largely unexplored and poorly understood. Fundamental questions include how much magnetic energy is stored in the coronal field, and how this energy may be liberated on timescales of minutes as observed, for example, in flares.

The successful candidate will join the dynamic and growing Centre for Space Physics at the University of Newcastle and will undertake a project to study the structure and dynamics of energetic processes in the corona.

Through the project, they will have the opportunity to:

  • use a combination of theoretical techniques, computational modelling, and analysis of observational data;
  • work in collaboration with colleagues both at Newcastle and internationally;
  • share their research with the international astrophysics community via conferences, meetings, and peer-reviewed publications.

A student undertaking the project will gain skills and expertise in modelling and high-performance computing. The results will enhance our understanding of energetic events in plasmas on a range of scales throughout the universe.

PhD Opportunity details

Funding: $28,597 per annum (2021 rate) indexed annually. For a PhD candidate, the living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years. Scholarships also include up to $1,500 relocation allowance. The scholarship will be offered to the successful candidate subject to funding being fully established.

Supervisor: A/Prof David Pontin

Available to: Domestic students


Eligibility Criteria

We are looking for a motivated, independent student with an Honours (or expected) degree or equivalent.

Experience in coding would be an advantage.

The applicant will need to meet the minimum eligibility criteria for admission

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to by 5pm on 23 April 2021.

Applications Close 23 April 2021 Apply Now

Contact A/Prof David Pontin
Phone +61 2 4055 3261

PhD and Research MastersFind out more

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