High Resolution Studies Of Solar Activity Using The 1.6-Meter Telescope In Big Bear

Project: Research project

Project Details


The main purpose of this five-year project is to support the science agenda and operations of the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). The BBSO operates the 1.6-meter Goode Solar Telescope (GST), which is currently the highest-resolution operating solar telescope in the U.S. This telescope enables spectroscopic and polarimetric measurements of the Sun's photosphere, chromosphere, and the base of the corona. In the near future, the BBSO will become the new home for the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS) instrument, which is currently being operated by the National Solar Observatory. After its relocation, the BBSO will become a comprehensive solar observing site, and it will be offering not only solar high-resolution observations, but also synoptic data of our star.The GST will continue to dominate the high-resolution U.S. ground-based solar observations until the 4-meter DKIST acquires its first light in 2020. Even when the DKIST becomes operational, the GST will still play a crucial role in joint campaign observations with the DKIST to maximize scientific return of both. The unique observing conditions at the BBSO provide the GST with an opportunity to be dedicated to campaign studies, whereas the DKIST will have the complementing mission of serving individual users. Comparable off-axis designs have made the GST an ideal test-bed, or path-breaker for various DKIST instrumentation and technologies. Furthermore, most of the DKIST critical science cases can be tested and verified with the GST observations in advance to select the most critical and high impact cases for DKIST first light. The BBSO plays a crucial role in training the next generation of scientists who build instruments and develop modern data analysis tools. During this project, two PhD students will be supported to conduct cutting-edge research using the BBSO facilities. The high-resolution data coupled with modeling and analytical tools will aid comprehensive studies of the origins of space weather. The collected data have been, and they will continue to be, used in many PhD thesis works. The BBSO solar data are fully open to the scientific community, and a substantial portion of the GST observing time is open to the community. The research and EPO agenda of this project supports the Strategic Goals of the AGS Division in discovery, learning, diversity, and interdisciplinary research.The GST plays, and it will continue to play, a leading role in advancing high-resolution studies of the Sun until the end of this decade and beyond. During this five-year project, the BBSO team will obtain, analyze and interpret the highest resolution solar data ever taken, while developing and applying analytical tools in order to tackle a number of critical science questions related to solar research, in particular those pertaining to the origin of the solar activity. This includes: (i) studies of flares and eruptive activity; (ii) studies of non-flaring activity of the solar atmosphere; and, (iii) studies of photospheric and low-chromospheric structures with the CYRA. The CYRA is the first-of-its-kind fully cryogenic spectrograph, which is used to probe the rich spectral regime between 1.0 and 5.0 micron in the infrared. The project team will use the CYRA's high-resolution observations in order to investigate the solar atmosphere above various magnetic structures. The BBSO researchers will investigate the true magnetic fields distribution by the virtue of CYRA's high Zeeman sensitivity, and they will conduct thermal infrared observations of the flaring solar atmosphere.This award reflects National Science Foundation 's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date6/15/185/31/23


  • National Science Foundation


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