Solar plasma spectroscopy: achievements and future challenges

Claudio Mendoza (IVIC/CeCalCULA)

Dr. Helen Mason. Image: Giulio Del Zanna

During 13-15 of September 2010, we had the privilege of attending the symposium “Solar plasma spectroscopy: achievements and future challenges“, held at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences of Cambridge University, UK.  This meeting was a celebration of the career of Helen Mason, a unique and very dear contributor to the field of atomic astrophysics, solar plasma spectroscopy and scientific outreach. A fairly large crowd of distinguished international scientists, spanning at least three generations, converged in Cambridge for three days of intensive discussions, presentations and socializing where quality atomic data and solar plasma diagnostics were always in the forefront.

 The dense program of the meeting (pdf presentations and videos available online) included a historical perspective and future challenges of the field and a wide variety of papers on UV and X-ray observations and diagnostics, atomic data, the solar atmosphere (from photosphere to the corona), flares, coronal heating and coronal loops. For those carrying out research in laboratory astrophysics and solar physics, we recommend to go over this material in detail as it provides a unique compendium of the evolution and current methods of solar plasma spectroscopy which do have an edge on most astrophysical endeavors.    

 Regarding the solar applications of atomic data, it is worth having a look at the new python CHIANTI interface described by Ken Dere (pdf), the puzzling reconciliation of theory, observations and experiment in the solar Fe XIV spectrum by Pete Storey (pdf) and Savin’s ionization and recombination measurements at the Heidelberg heavy ion storage ring  (pdf). A definitely bright outlook is conveyed by the Del Zanna’s benchmarking of atomic data for astrophysical applications (pdf), Badnell’s  review of atomic processes in astrophysical plasmas (pdf), the extensive R-matrix calculations by Guiyun Liang (pdf) and the developments of the new Virtual Atomic and Molecular Data Center (VAMDC) described by myself (pdf).

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