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 co
nditions 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 Eart
h 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 the Sun's magnetic activity has been increasing over the last couple of years, meaning the number of sunspots and flares are going up, increasing the likelihood of Earth-impacting space weather events.
I use helioseisomological techniques to provide crucial insights into the structure and evolution of the Sun's internal magnetic field. We still do not fully understand how and where inside the Sun this magnetic field is generated and maintained. Helioseismology can provide clues to unravel this mystery. It is now also possible to perform similar studies on other stars using asteroseismology. There is evidence that stars similar to our Sun may be capable of producing flares that are substantially larger than even the largest ever seen on our Sun. Using data from satellites, such as Kepler, TESS and hopefully PLATO, our aim is to place the Sun in the context of other stars, determing how typical our Sun's magnetic activity really is and whether it too is capable of producing enormous superflares.