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School of Physics and Astronomy

Leverhulme Trust Award

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The School of Physics and Astronomy is pleased to announce that the Leverhulme Trust has awarded Queen Mary, University of London over £158,000 for a research project conducted by Dr David Tsikaluri.  The research project titled, Advanced model of solar radio bursts via plasma kinetic simulation, will run for three years.  

Solar activity directly affects humankind via hazardous for the terrestrial and space technology phenomena such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and solar energetic particle events. Better understanding of these phenomena will ultimately, enable humankind to predict and prepare for these hazards.


This project intends to create an advanced numerical model based on multi-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations to adequately model and understand the generation of radio emission during solar flares in the coronal part of the solar atmosphere where most of the solar activity occurs.

Significance and originality:

Previously observational effort in studying the solar flares has been focusing mostly on hard X-ray emission produced when energetic solar flare electrons, that travel Sunwards smash into the solar surface. Naturally, the theory and modeling effort has been focusing on these electrons. However, new European radio telescope LOFAR will soon also provide high quality radio data in the poorly explored low frequency regime (30-240 MHz) with excellent (0.01s) time cadence. The radio emission is believed to come from electrons that travel upwards, away from the Sun. The proposed work aims to fill the gap in understanding how the upwards moving electrons interact with plasma and produce the observed radio emission. Created advanced multi-dimensional model of solar radio bursts via plasma kinetic simulation, based on the EPOCH relativistic PIC code will be able to (i) to reproduce the synthetic (simulated) dynamic spectra in 1.5D case; (ii) to simulate the observed radiation characteristics of the radio sources such as the brightness temperature, the angular size of the source from different perspectives, the beaming pattern and imaging spectroscopy maps in 2.5D case; and (iii) to simulate energy release in solar active regions and its associated radio emission in 3D using full kinetic, PIC approach. This will enable to answer major, unsolved science questions.


The project goals be achieved by means of adequate kinetic-scale, multi-dimensional particle-in-cell modeling of the phenomenon and numerical simulation results will be compared with the radio observations. Forward modelling will enable to answer major, unsolved science questions related to the physical properties of the electron beam that produces the radio emission; spatial location of its injection; and properties of the medium along Sun- Earth direction, in which the electron beam propagates. Creation of this model is crucial and timely given the largescale commitment of Europe and UK to radio observational facilities, since only synthesis of the model with observations is likely to answer the key science questions.

Further information on the research of the Astronomy Unit can be found at