e-mail: A-M dot Broomhall at warwick dot ac dot uk
My research focuses on solar and stellar physics, specifically helioseismology and asteroseismology. Helioseismology involves probing inside the Sun by studying acoustic waves that travel through the solar interior, much in the same way as sound waves resonate in a musical wind instrument. At any one time thousands of oscillations are trapped in different but overlapping regions of the solar interior and their properties are sensitive to conditions in the gas they travel through. Therefore, by studying the properties of these oscillations, such as their frequency and amplitude, we can see inside the Sun.
This work is important because without light and heat from the Sun life on Earth would not exist. However, the Sun also influences life on Earth in other ways: the Sun has a variable magnetic field with the potential to knock out communications satellites, GPS signals and endanger airplane travellers. Despite being crucial to life on Earth the mechanism by which the Sun's magnetic field is generated and sustained remains mysterious. The Sun's magnetic field varies in strength, primarily on a time scale of 11yrs from minimum to maximum and back again. This is particularly topical at the moment as it has recently been behaving unexpectedly: the solar activity minimum, observed between 2006 and 2010, lasted significantly longer than expected. However, the strength of the Sun's magnetic field is now once again increasing and the solar cycle recently hit the headlines as large solar storms were directed towards Earth.
I use helioseisomological techniques to provide crucial insights into the Sun's enigmatic magnetic field. My research will help us to understand the violent magnetic eruptions that affect life on Earth and could impact on climate change studies. I will also use similar techniques to probe stars other than the Sun (asteroseismology), using data from NASA's Kepler satellite, leading to advances in theories of stellar evolution and influencing the search for habitable planets orbiting stars other than our own Sun.