MELBOURNE, FLA. — Solar energetic particles (SEPs), especially those of high energies, can negatively affect the near-Earth space weather environment and
spacecraft. The SEPs can originate from either energization at a solar flare site or by interplanetary shockwaves associated with coronal mass ejections
(CMEs). The charged energetic particles consist of protons, electrons, and heavy ions — primarily moving along the solar and interplanetary magnetic
fields — can reach Earth in a matter of a few hours and dose the geospace environment with hazardous radiation.
To increase understanding of SEP transport, Ming Zhang, Ph.D., Florida Tech professor of physics and space sciences and his collaborators Hamid K. Rassoul,
Ph.D., from Florida Tech and Gang Qin, Ph.D. from State Key Laboratory of Space Weather in China, have received NASA funding of just under $400,000 for a
They will investigate the propagation of SEPs in the 3-dimensional heliospheric magnetic fields. The objective of this theoretical and data analysis
project is to solve the mystery why some SEP events can come from CME or flare events that are not magnetically connected to the Sun, and why SEPs often
form a uniform particle reservoir in the entire inner heliosphere. Their specific goal is to assess the role of cross-field diffusion in charged particle
“We hope to extract the physics of particle acceleration and propagation in interplanetary space. In addition, the knowledge of energetic particle flow in
the solar system will enhance our understanding of many high-energy astrophysical phenomena, such as cosmic rays, supernova remnants and gamma-ray
emissions” said Zhang.
The project’s educational value is in training graduate students in sophisticated space plasma modeling and data analysis.
Florida Tech grants bachelor’s degrees in physics, pre-professional physics, space sciences, with options in solar, Earth, and planetary, astronomy and
astrophysics, and astrobiology, and master’s and doctoral degrees in physics or space sciences.