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Merry christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

EST Calendar 2021

Dear EST lovers, The new EST Calendar 2021 has arrived!

You can download it from our website innen. You can upload the calendar to your personal social networks, tag us, and use the hashtag ESTCalendar2021. The subject of the calendars this year is solar instrumentation.

AGU Fall Meeting 2020

The AGU Fall Meeting will be one of the world's largest virtual scientific conferences, with exciting programming and events. To assist in minimizing scheduling conflicts, #AGU20 is scheduled from 1-17 December, excluding weekends. Most content will be prerecorded or available as posters for attendees to view and peruse outside of scheduled sessions during the meeting. The Fall Meeting will be available in our online platform. We have partnered with various audio-visual providers to ensure quality streaming. Fall Meeting 2020 will be held from 1-17 December. All #AGU20 Fall Meeting sessions and events will be held in a virtual platform. Only registered attendees will be able to access 1,000+ hours of scientific content, from posters to Union sessions. With more than 23,000 attendees from 110+ countries, we also offer numerous opportunities for you to network to meet new colleagues and friends.

Earth and space science makes a valuable impact on our everyday lives and the community's support of each other is a consistent inspiration to us all. Whether working from home, participating in virtual field work, or reopening labs and offices during this global pandemic, AGU's community of Earth and space scientists are continuing the important work leading to discoveries and solutions - advancing the collective understanding of the world around us. On behalf of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, Dr. Bernadett Belucz participated at the meeting.

Hungarian Space Research Day 2020

On October 15, 2020, the Hungarian Astronautical Society (MANT) held the Hungarian Space Research Day.

The event, originally organized at the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, was held in the form of an online broadcast due to the COVID-19 epidemic, for which all those interested in the profession were expected. Among others, dr. Orsolya Ferencz, Minister of the Interior, also gave a presentation. On behalf of the Foundation, Dr. Bernadett Belucz participated in the event.

I. Astronomical Days in Gyula

We held the 1st Astronomy Days in Gyula on September 26-27. Despite the coronavirus and the mandatory visitor limit, the event has an extraordinary success. Thank you to everyone who came, listened to us, asked questions and watched the Sun through our binoculars!

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The visitors had the chance of knowing more about EST. EST Communication Office congratulates our Hungarian colleagues for this initiative. They also promoted the event through the EST channels. They invite you to visit the gallery of images of the event at here. We also thank you for their support!

The first observation of GSO’s new Solar Telescope

Although the Sun seems to be inactive in the past couple of years, it still shows subtle fantastic features. See at the limb, at about "4 o'clock” where one can notice a beautiful protuberance, which is 10-20 times larger than Earth.

Interview with Dr. Belucz Bernadett about the Astronomy Days in Gyula (source: Gyulakult)

On 26th and 27th September, exciting programs and nine interesting events will attract the current and future lovers of the Sun, the stars and astronomy to Gyula, to the Almásy Castle. Among other things, there will be an opportunity to observe the night sky through the telescopes of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation with the assistance of professional astronomers. About the Gyula Astronomy Days, Dr. Bernadett Belucz, member of the board of trustees of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, gave us information.

- The original goal was to give further momentum to domestic solar physics researches, and we would like to become a leading research center in the field of space weather on an international level as well. The renovation and expansion of the Gyula Observatory is a part of this process - said Dr. Bernadett Belucz in connection with the intentions behind the event. - The project aims to renovate and expand the observatory, and is being implemented with the support of the municipality of Gyula. For that we are grateful and would like to give something back - she said.

The event will take place at the Almásy Castle in Gyula

Astronomy is quite popular, but the general knowledge is rather scanty, which is exponentially true for solar physics. We would like to change this with the best intentions. Ultimately, this also means that we would like to bring science closer to everyday life, as there are a number of phenomena that actually have an extraordinary impact on our everyday lives.

The Sun, as the central celestial body, is present in every moment of our lives and plays a decisive role in it, directly and indirectly. Of course, it is no coincidence that the veneration of the Sun as a deity can be observed throughout human history around the world. The ancient Egyptians venerated this celestial body as a god. Furthermore, Re (Ra) was one of their most significant gods. His authority extended to heaven, earth, and the underworld. He played an important role in several creation myths, and was considered the divine father of the king.

For centuries, churches and tombs have been built based on astronomical orientation, that is, based on the annual route of the sun: on equinoxes and solstices. These notable dates were accompanied by extraordinary events and celebrations around the world. The course of the Sun determines the alternation of the seasons and days, so we have adapted our significant calendar systems to it since ancient times.

Solar activity is the key to the so-called space weather, which is intended to study how high-energy particles and magnetic fields originating from the Sun effect Earth. Everyday technologies such as telecommunication and aviation are increasingly exposed to complex physical processes resulting from the interaction of particles flowing from the Sun and the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Our primary goal is to understand and to predict the processes and causes of space weather in detail.

The detailed program

In addition, our foundation is involved in the EST project (European Solar Telescope), which aims to build Europe's largest solar telescope. It is a revolutionary new, 4-meter diameter telescope and was designed to examine the active Sun in unprecedented resolution. Hungary has never before participated in such a large-scale scientific project. Those interested in the project can hear more about it during the Astronomy Days in Gyula as well.

- We would like to show the beauty of this profession, and why and what makes solar physics interesting. During these two days, professional astronomers will help us to do so - explained dr. Belucz Bernadett. She emphasized that they would like this event to go beyond them simply standing up and listing information. On September 26 and 27, there will be an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and initiate conversations.

- After the presentations, we will provide an opportunity for participants to talk to our astronomers and ask questions in the form of a scientific forum. There will also be an opportunity to explore the Sun and the night sky with the telescopes provided by the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation and with the help of professional astronomers. They will show various celestial objects, but this requires a clear, cloudless sky. She brought up as an example, that the telescopes are suitable for examining Jupiter with about a half an inch of a diameter. We can discover for ourselves the four great moons of Jupiter, the Galilean moons, the stripes of its atmosphere, and maybe we will also be able to see a bit of the red spot.

Europe’s largest Solar Telescope GREGOR unveils magnetic secrets of the Sun

GREGOR, the largest solar telescope in Europe located on Teide Observatory, Tenerife in the Canary Island and operated by a German consortium led by the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS), has obtained unprecedented images of the fine-structure of the atmosphere of the Sun.

Europe's largest solar telescope GREGOR reveals intricate structures of solar magnetic fields in very high resolution. The image was taken at the wavelength of 516 nm. Credit: KIS

The Sun is the only star that we can observe in detail. It has a profound influence on our planet as life and civilization depends on the radiation and high-speed particles coming from this fascinating celestial object. This stream of radiation and particle flux varies in time and can be very dangerous as a result of the largest explosions in the entire Solar System. The potentially highest risks are the solar explosions know the solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The physical processes that determine the speed, form, energy, etc. of flares and CMEs is governed by the solar magnetism. By studying the magnetism on the Sun, we can understand how the solar influence is forming on Earth and minimize damage of satellites and technological infrastructure in our technosphere. The GREGOR telescope allows scientists to resolve details as small as 50 km on the solar surface, called the photosphere, which is a tiny fraction of the solar diameter of about 1.4 million km. This is as if one saw a needle on a soccer field perfectly sharp from a distance of one kilometre.

“This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project. In only one year we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics, and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality.” said Dr. Lucia Kleint, who led the project and the German solar telescopes on Tenerife. GREGOR has now obtained the highest resolution images of the Sun ever taken by a European telescope.

Prof. Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina (Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg and Director of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS)), says: “The project was rather risky because such telescope upgrades usually take years, but the great team work and meticulous planning have led to this success. Now we have a powerful instrument to solve puzzles on the Sun.” The new optics of the telescope will now allow scientists to study magnetic fields, convection, turbulence, solar eruptions, and sunspots in great detail. First light images obtained in July 2020 reveal astonishing details of sunspot evolution and intricate structures in solar plasma.

A technical description of the redesign of GREGOR was recently published by the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics in an article led by Dr. L. Kleint (see here ).

Credit: European researchers have access to observations with the GREGOR telescope through national programs and a program funded by the European commission. New scientific observations are starting in September 2020.


A sunspot observed in high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at the wavelength 430 nm. (Click to play)

Our scientists at Gyula Bay Zoltan Solar Observatory congratulate to colleagues at KIS and are looking forward to carry out joint scientific programmes with this fantastic ground-based facolity, GREGOR, in order to better understand how to predict space weather and provide services to mitigate the adverse effects caused by solar eruptions.

We are organizing the Astronomy Days in Gyula at the end of September

The Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation is organizing a scientific event, the Astronomy Days in Gyula, on 26th and 27th September. We warmly invite and welcome all those who are interested to the Almásy Castle in Gyula, where the event will take place.

We aim to bring the local scientific life closer to people, and to create an opportunity for those interested to get answers to their astronomy-related questions from our professional astronomers. We want to achieve this with a diverse and interesting event that goes beyond simply listening to a lecture. At the same time, we hope that the Astronomy Days in Gyula will create a tradition as well.

The detailed program.

The event is free to attend.

Our binoculars for presentations have arrived

Our grant application, "The Utilization of the Szép Szilágyi Forestry Memorial for Astronomical Educational and Community Shaping Purposes", submitted with the identification number LEADER_VP6-19_2_1_65-8-3_8-17_1969745812, supported by the Hungarian State and the European Union, received a positive assessment. We used the grant to purchase two binoculars for presentations. These arrived to Gyula at the end of July. They will be tested at the II. Strategic Meeting in Gyula.

Professor Róbert Erdélyi examines the Sun with our new telescope.

The Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation acquired an 80 mm diameter Lunt LS 80T Halpha solar telescope with SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 Pro GoTo mechanics from the LEADER tender. The Lunt Etalon filter is famous for providing good image resolution. The 80mm lens diameter and the 560mm focus show a nice contrasting, detailed picture of the Sun's surface, the sunbursts and protuberances. Its bandwidth is less than 0.7A, which is responsible for the highly contrasting image of the solar surface. The binoculars are perfectly collimated, with no coma defects, spherical defects, or astigmatism that would degrade the image. The binoculars also feature a B1200 block filter and an advanced air pressure tuning system, a Pressure Tuner. The B1200 is great for both visual solar monitoring, as well as taking photographs with small or medium-sized CCD chip cameras.

Our other binocular for nightly observations is a 150mm SkyWatcher achromatic refractor with 1200mm focus, equipped with Fraunhofer lens and a SkyWatcher EQ5 mechanism. Thanks to its high performance and excellent image quality, it is a very versatile binocular that requires minimal maintenance and is extremely long-lasting, as the lenses and their coatings are extremely durable. Whether we want to observe the ripples of the clouds of Jupiter or the rings and clouds of Saturn, we will get a sensationally detailed picture. Thanks to its good light utilization, even deep-sky objects appear in extreme detail through the binocular.

Read more about the binoculars itt olvashat.

II. Gyula Strategic Meeting

Thanks to our successful tenders pályázatainknak , the renovation of the observatory has begun. It was time to hold another strategic meeting in Gyula.

The strategic meeting held on 29 July was attended by Prof. Róbert Erdélyi, Dr. Marianna Korsós and Dr. Bernadett Belucz. The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss ideas, plans, issues, and questions with the specialists who renovating the observatory. Each step of the renovation process was discussed in detail with relevant experts. Following the discussion, we also assessed the condition of the observatory. To close out the meeting, we set up and tested our new binoculars for presentations. We will present our binoculars in detail in a separate article and under a separate menu on the website.

Visual design of the observatory of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation

A NEOWISE naked-eye comet in Gyula

Professional photographer Sándor Pénzes created a wonderful series of photos of the comet Neowise. This series can now also be viewed on the HSPF website. Sándor Pénzes kindly agreed to post his video and a picture on the foundation's website.

NEOWISE comet in Gyula.

More pictures on the website of Gyula.

The star of the month: a NEOWISE naked-eye comet

The Neowise comet is the first naked-eyed comet in a long time. No wonder that both professional and amateur astronomers have been excited since March to see the unusual phenomenon which is moving in a northwestern direction.

Neowise comet over Badacsony. Source: Turista Magazin

The C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) comet can be observed during early twilight at the beginning of July, and from 15 July during the early evening hours. By now, it has become circumpolar, meaning it does not rest below the horizon but circles on the sky. In August, it will only be possible to observe it with smaller binoculars.

Neowise comet over Stonehange. Source: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap200722.html

Those who wonder what trajectory the comet takes can found more information here

The place of our foundation in the international space exploration

The SWATNET project received €3,177 million funding from the European Commission's Marie Curie Actions Innovative Training Network this year. The international program examining the physical processes of space weather is a cooperation between astrophysicists from Eötvös Loránd University and from our Foundation. It helps young researchers in gaining more experience in a research field which attracts outstanding global interest.

The SWATNET (Space Weather Awareness Training Network) project is among the winners of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks for joint PhD programs in 2020. In addition to Eötvös Loránd University, the international consortium has 15 members from 7 other countries, a third of whom is industry players engaged in innovative research development. The coordinating institution is the University of Helsinki. From Hungary, the Gyula-based Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation – led by Róbert Erdélyi – participates in the project.

Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) are the leading doctoral programs in Europe, bringing together universities, research institutes and other scientific institutions and the industrial sector in order to provide doctoral training for young researchers. On the one hand, the networks help professionally development and help achieve scientific results, and on the other hand they help gain international experience.

Only 10% of the 1 500 applications submitted in the ITN category is supported by the European Commission. These include 12 tenders in the EJD (European Joint Degree) category, including SWATNET.

In the field of astronomy, including space physics and astrophysics, SWATNET was the only winning application in the whole of Europe.

The subject of the four-year project is to study the physical processes of space weather and to develop more reliable and more accurate space weather forecasting methods. Among other things, researchers are looking for answers to such fundamental plasma astrophysical questions as the origin of the Sun's magnetic activity, and a more accurate modeling of the predictability of solar flares using mathematical methods, supercomputers, and machine learning methods.

Róbert Erdélyi and Kristóf Petrovay are among the leaders of the research teams involved in the international program to study the physical processes of space weather and help young researchers gain experience. Róbert Erdélyi is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of our Foundation and professor at the University of Sheffield. Kristóf Petrovay is an internationally renowned expert of our Foundation and Head of the Department of Astronomy at Eötvös Loránd University.

As part of the research program, young researchers spend at least one month at the Zoltán Bay Solar Physics Observatory of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation in Gyula. With the support of the Municipality of Gyula and the Hungarian state’s Széchenyi Program, the observatory is now in the last, exciting phase of its renovation. It is expected to open to the public during the fall of 2021, when a larger international solar physics summer school will also be held at the institution. The summer school is organized as part of a € 9,996 million SOLARNET program across Europe which brings together the European solar physics observatories and solar research institutes. The large-scale project brings together 36 research institutes and economic operators involved in research development from 17 countries. The participants – including SWATNET doctoral students – will carry out preparatory research for the 4m European Telescope (EST), which will be completed by the second half of 2020.

Science of EST book

The Science Of EST is a weekly series of short articles explaining the scientific problems that will be addressed by the European Solar Telescope. Written by scientists involved in the EST project, they are published also in the EST social media channels under the hashtag #TheScienceOfEST.

After more than 14 months of activity, #TheScienceOfEST series comes to an end. We have published a total of 61 articles weekly since March 2019. The book The Science of EST collects all 77 articles written by professional solar astronomers from 30 different European research centers and universities.

Here for more information on EST and for download.

EST Virtual Solar Kit

Two Activity Books of the EST Virtual Solar Kit have published.

They contain a total of 6 hands-on activities for students in the age range from 10 to 16 years. The two books cover the topics: Telescopes and solar observations and Magnetic fields and solar phenomena. These are two cornerstones of the EST project.

Here for more information on EST and for download.

"The QuEST for Flares", the last episode of our cartoon video series, is out! (The QuEST IV)

Meet Richard Carrington, the astronomer who discovered solar flares - the most energetic phenomena occurring in the Solar System.

And don't forget you can download all the episodes in different languages on the EST website at https://tinyurl.com/TheQuESTseries

The Sun often releases flares, explosive events occurring in the solar atmosphere. They were discovered in England in the nineteenth century by Richard Carrington at Redhill Observatory, south of London.

See for more information.

Our scientists helping us to see the Sun as we've never seen it before

The clearest and most detailed images of the Sun have been captured by the largest telescope in the world. Just-released first images and videos from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (IST) reveal unprecedented detail of the Sun’s surface, with experts saying it will enable a new era of solar science and a leap forward in understanding the Sun and its impacts on our planet.

Cropped section of the full field from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope’s first light image. Credit: NSO/AURA/NSF

The new images from NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope 4-meter solar telescope, which sits near the summit of Haleakalā in Hawaiʻi, show a close-up view of the Sun’s surface including a pattern of turbulent “boiling” plasma that covers the entire Sun. The images also show cell-like structures - each about the size of Texas - which are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from inside the Sun to its surface.

The new images were taken with cameras developed and supplied by a UK consortium led by Queen’s University Belfast. Professor Robertus Erdélyi (University of Sheffield, Dept of Astronomy, Eötvös University, Budapest and the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation) is member of the multi-institutional consortium and has led the developoment of a number of data analysis tools using Machine Learning techniques. These tools, e.g. MONAMI (Mapping Of Non-potentiAl Magnetic fIeld) or ASDA (Automated Swirl Detection Algorythm) will be crucial in making new discoveries and in the exploitation of the unprecedented ultra-high resolution solar data provided by IST.

Professor Erdélyi said: “The Inouye Solar Telescope with its 4-m aperture will open revolutionary new avenues for the strategic research carried out not just at our Universities and research establishments but also across Europe and elsewhere. These images will help us to better understand the physical processes of the lower solar atmosphere, and will now provide plenty of new research opportunities for our PhD students and post-doctoral research fellows to embark on. In particular, we are now thrilled to analyse these data and making a step towards understanding how magnetic waves [see our Nature Communication paper: Nature paper] and solar spicules [see our Science paper: Science paper] determine the physical conditions in our best natural plasma laboratory, the Sun”

He added: “I am also very proud that other early-carrier Hungarian scientist from the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation,and also at Eötvös University have contributed to our software development. Dr Marianna Korsós, who has recently defended successfully her PhD, has made major contribution to the MONAMI tool, while Dr Norbert Gyenge -another fresh PhD- has contributed to visualize magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere. These are fantastic efforts from our younger colleagues who will in due course fully exploit the discovery opportunities provided by this world-leading solar telescope”

Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis of Queen’s University Belfast, who led the UK consortium, said: “The imaging produced by the Inouye Solar Telescope opens new horizons in solar physics. Its imaging capability allows us to study the physical processes at work in the Sun’s atmosphere at unprecedented levels of detail. We worked hard over the past few years with Belfast-based Andor Technology to develop the cameras that equip the Inouye Solar Telescope and it is highly rewarding to now see this fascinating imaging.”

Experts also say the telescope will play a critical role in better understanding the Sun and space weather, and provide important details for scientists.

NSF Director, France Córdova, said, “NSF’s Inouye Solar Telescope will be able to map the magnetic fields within the Sun’s corona, where solar eruptions occur that can impact life on Earth. This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms.”

Activity on the Sun, known as space weather, can affect systems on Earth. Magnetic eruptions on the Sun can impact air travel, disrupt satellite communications and bring down power grids, causing long-lasting blackouts and disabling technologies such as GPS. It is one of the core strategic research activities of HSPF to contribute to space weather research even with our modest –in comparison to IST- telescope establishment at Gyula solar Observatory.

Finally resolving these tiny magnetic features is central to what makes the Inouye Solar Telescope unique. It can measure and characterize the Sun’s magnetic field in more detail than ever seen before and determine the causes of potentially harmful solar activity.

“It’s all about the magnetic field,” said Thomas Rimmele, director of the Inouye Solar Telescope. “To unravel the Sun’s biggest mysteries, we have to not only be able to clearly see these tiny structures from 93 million miles away but very precisely measure their magnetic field strength and direction near the surface and trace the field as it extends out into the million-degree corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun.”

Better understanding the origins of potential disasters will enable governments and utilities to better prepare for inevitable future space weather events. It is expected that notification of potential impacts could occur earlier - as much as 48 hours ahead of time instead of the current standard, which is about 48 minutes. This would allow for more time to secure power grids and critical infrastructure and to put satellites into safe mode.

NSF’s new ground-based Inouye Solar Telescope will work with space-based solar observation tools such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (currently in orbit around the Sun) and the European Space Agency/NASA Solar Orbiter (soon to be launched). The three solar observation initiatives will expand the frontiers of solar research and improve scientists’ ability to predict space weather.

“These first images are just the beginning,” said David Boboltz, program director in NSF’s division of astronomical sciences and who oversees the facility’s construction and operations. “Over the next six months, the Inouye telescope’s team of scientists, engineers and technicians will continue testing and commissioning the telescope to make it ready for use by the international solar scientific community. The Inouye Solar Telescope will collect more information about our Sun during the first 5 years of its lifetime than all the solar data gathered since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the Sun in 1612.”

Multimedia resources are available at:

Notes: The journal Nature Communications should be credited as the source of the research article. All images can be used if proper credits are given. For further scientific information, please contact: Professor Robertus Erdélyi (Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com, or Dept. of Astronomy, Eötvös University, Budapest (Hungary), on email robertus@sheffield.ac.uk. For further media information please contact: Dr Bernadett Belucz, Public Affairs Manager, Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, Gyula (Hungary), on email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com.

More images/movies here:

Solar space probes: XII. Solar Orbiter

This article appeared in the March issue of AERO magazine. Many thanks to Professor Béla Kálmán for making it available to us, moreover, for providing an interesting addition!

Following the success of the Parker spacecraft launched by NASA, the ESA Solar Orbiter (SolO) was launched from the Kennedy Space Center with the help of an Atlas-V 411 booster at 4:03 a.m. (UT) on 10 February, 2020. NASA is also a major participant in the program. Its main purpose is to observe the Sun’s less studied surface areas around the axis of rotation, and to study the Sun-Earth relations in order to understand and predict the more stormy phases of space weather.

The Solar Orbiter in front of the Sun

The sunspots were already known around at the beginning of our time. Observations were recorded, especially in Eastern chronicles. In Europe, after the invention of the telescope in the early 1600s, Galileo Galilee and Christopher Scheiner made regular observations. However, the real interest increased when Heinrich Schwabe discovered the 11-year sunspot cycle, and several others noticed that the outbursts in the Earth’s magnetic field – the number of “magnetic storms” – changes according to the number of the sunspots. Richard Carrington's observation on 1 September in 1859 was of great importance. He saw a solar flare that could also be observed in white light. This was followed by the largest magnetic storm ever observed. Physicists doubted the connection between the two phenomena because of the low energy content of the light phenomenon, but measurements from the Luna-1 spacecraft in 1959 showed that it is the solar wind that transmits the effects of the Sun to the Earth’s environment. That there is a constant particle flow from the Sun has long been suspected because of the changes in comets’ tails. Eugene N. Parker (after whom the NASA spacecraft was named) wrote down this theory in 1958, and after the Luna-1, spacecrafts regularly monitor it. The Earth is protected from the solar winds by its own magnetic field, which forms a cavity in the solar wind, the magnetosphere. This gets disturbed by the clouds of particles propagating in the solar wind. The general state of the Earth's environment, the strength of the electromagnetic and particle radiation around us and their changes has been called space weather for some decades now. It can have an important impact on Earth and on the state of the spacecrafts moving around the Earth and in the solar system. For example, proton radiation growth of extreme strength could be fatal to an astronaut working in space, and magnetic storms could affect power supplies in the Nordic countries, disturb the GPS system, aviation, and long oil pipelines. For these practical reasons, it is important to keep an eye on the Sun and solar wind, which is one of the goals of the Solar Orbiter.

The side facing the Sun with the openings of the instruments looking through the heat shield

Its orbit around the Sun will initially be highly variable, using the gravitational field of the Earth and Venus several times to get closer to the Sun and to tilt its trajectory out of the ecliptic, that is, the trajectory of the Earth. After the first gravitational maneuvers, the spacecraft enters a resonant orbit with Venus, and it can approach it several times in a row to rotate the trajectory. After about 3 ½ years, the final elliptical observation path will take it closer to the Sun. It will be within the orbit of Mercury, around 42 million km away from the Sun (about 60 times the radius of the Sun, 0.28 AU, Astronomical Unit, the average Sun-Earth distance). Here the temperature of the heat shield facing the Sun can reach up to 500 degrees. Some of the instruments take photographs of the surface of the Sun through holes cut in the heat shield. (The Parker spacecraft can get closer to our star; however, it doesn't have a solar camera because it would melt at 1,500 degrees Celsius.) By the end of its design lifetime, which is about 7 years, the angle of inclination of the SolO orbit will be 24 degrees. At the end of the extended program it will be 33 degrees so it will be able to take photographs with significantly better visibility of the Sun's lesser-known polar regions. Mostly European researchers took part in the preparation of the program and the instruments, but there are contributors from all over the world. The number of authors in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal's current description of instruments is close to or more than a hundred. In Hungary, the Wigner Physics Research Center in Csillebérc participated in the construction of the magnetometer by developing a ground monitoring device, and will also participate in the research later.

Location of the instruments on the spacecraft

The 10 instruments of the 1,800 kg spacecraft can be divided into two groups, those that perform on-site measurements and remote sensors (cameras). The 4 on-site measuring devices measure the particle flow properties of the solar wind at the spot of SolO. The SWA solar wind plasma analyzer measures the particle stream’s density, velocity, temperature, and composition. The EPD high energy particle counter determines the frequency and composition of these particles. The MAG magnetometer records changes in the magnitude and direction of the on-site magnetic field. The RPW radio and plasma wave detector is both an on-site and a distance sensor: with its antennas it simultaneously detects the electric and magnetic fields around the spacecraft and the propagating radio waves.

Under construction

The remote sensing instruments photograph different layers of the solar atmosphere from the surface of the Sun, the photosphere, over a wide range of electromagnetic radiation, from X-rays to visible light. The PHI polarimeter seismometer transmits detailed images of the solar disk, the photosphere, in the range of visible light, measuring the total vector (magnitude, direction) of the magnetic field at all points, and the line-of-sight (LOS) velocity of the material. These extremely complex measurements will provide the basis for comparing the phenomena measured by other instruments. It contains two telescopes. The HRT high-resolution telescope has a resolution of 1 arc-second corresponding to the EUI high-resolution telescopes and in close proximity to the Sun allows the observation of objects that have a size of 150 km. This is extremely important for observing the assumed current layers originating at the start of the flares. The FDT full disk telescope captures the entire solar disk in its field of view at all distances. Both telescopes have a polarization modulator that measures magnetic field and LOS, with an image size of 2048 x 2048 pixels. The EUI extreme-ultraviolet imager photographs the higher layers on the solar atmospheric layers in the spectral lines of the chromospheres and the crown (1216, 304, and 174 Ångström). It contains three telescopes, one photographing the entire solar disk with a field of view of 3.8 x 3.8 degrees (there will also be close-ups!), alternating between 174 and 304 Å (1 million degree and 80,000 degree plasma radiation, respectively), with 10 arc-seconds resolution. The sensor is 3072 x 3072 pixels. The other two telescopes take 1 arc-second resolution, 2048 x 2048 pixel images of the solar disk in its 174 Å (1 million degrees) and 1216 Å hydrogen Lyman-alpha spectrum (30,000 degrees) in the upper chromospheres. The diameter of their field of view is 1 solar radius from a distance, and 1/3 solar radius near the Sun. Based on its data, the heating of these layers can be examined. The SPICE imager spectrograph performs spectral analysis of the same layers. It monitors two spectral ranges, the wavelengths between 700-792 and 970-1053 Ångström. There are many spectral lines formed in the chromospheres and in the solar corona between 10,000 to 10 million K temperatures so the physical conditions prevailing there can be determined. The STIX X-ray telescope detects solar thermal and non-thermal X-ray emission from 4 to 150 keV with a 7 arc-seconds spatial and 1 keV energy resolution, up to twice of the radius of the solar disk. Its images are calculated from the intensities measured behind 32 shielding grid systems using mathematical methods.

The trajectory of SolO

All of these instruments deal with the solar disk and its immediate surroundings. With regards to the terrestrial effects, it is very important to monitor the formation of solar wind flow and the propagation of sometimes high-velocity plasma clouds from active phenomena all the way to the orbit of Earth (and beyond). Such observations are already disturbed by the light of the solar disk, so they are covered with an external or an internal shielding disc, or the Sun does not even enter the field of view. The Metis chronograph’s annular field of view examines the inner crown in the vicinity of the Sun. It divides the incoming light into two. On the one hand to the visible spectral range and on the other hand to the ultraviolet spectral line of the hydrogen Lyman-alpha. Near the Sun, the field of view is 1.7-3.0, at a distance it is 4.0-7.5 solar radius. SoloHI examines the spread of the solar wind. It peeks out on the side of the spacecraft. It looks towards the side of the solar disk by 25 degrees, with the edges of its field of view being at an angular distance between 5.4 to 45 degrees from the direction of the Sun. The five-piece lens projects the image onto 4K x 4K (exactly 3920 x 3920) resolution sensor consisting of four parts. Although there is no atmospheric scattered light in space, the camera photographing very faint solar wind objects in the visible spectral range had to be protected against the scattering of light reflected from the spacecraft’s solar cells.

The finished spacecraft

Along with the Parker and Stereo-A spacecraft orbiting around the Sun and other spacecrafts around the Earth (SDO, SOHO), SolO is launching a new onslaught to reveal the secrets of the Sun. We are still in the solar minimum. However, at Christmas, in addition to an object from the ending 24th solar cycle, two new active areas belonging to the 25th solar cycle were also visible on the Sun, one in each hemisphere. Solar activity is expected to rise slowly in 2020 and we will gain new knowledge with the new instruments.

The structure of a sunspot
Metis’ field of view (gray ring) at different solar distances

Addendum: A printed version of this article appeared in the March 2020 issue of AERO Magazine. After the completion of the manuscript, SolO was launched with an Atlas-V 411 booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 04:03 am on the 10 February 2020. Its equipments are working fine, waiting to be turned on when the spacecraft gets near to the Sun. In the meantime, it turned out that its orbit crosses the tail of the ATLAS comet that was discovered in the last days of 2019 (it crosses the ion beam on 31st May 2020 and the dust tail on 6th June 2020). Therefore 4 instruments were switched on, from which the most interesting results are expected.

ATLAS comet on the recording of STEREO-A spacecraft in the first days of June 2020

More information: here.

The Sun may show a side that we have never seen

Within the framework of the collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, the Solar Orbiter satellite, the new “big thing” in plasma astrophysics, was launched at dawn on 10 February. A part of the project, Róbert Erdélyi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation and professor of astronomy at the University of Sheffield and ELTE, will study the plasma outflow of the Sun at its ultraviolet wavelength.

Scientists first expressed the need for a satellite to study the Sun’s plasma eruptions in 1999, with the European Space Agency (ESA) planning a mission for 2008-2013. However, serious technical obstacles were encountered during the construction of the probe. One of the great challenges was the thermal insulation of the spacecraft which required several years of development so that the equipments will be able to tolerate heat up to 520 C.

The cooling range of the Solar Orbiter was eventually made like a “sandwich”, with several layers of titanium, coated with a special material called SolarBlack. The cover of spacecrafts is usually white because of the reflection of light, but the white color is turned gray by ultraviolet radiation, which significantly changes the thermal properties of the probe and can adversely affect its instruments. Due to its special protective cover, the Solar Orbiter has already been named Blackbird by scientists.

The Solar Orbiter’s footage will introduce never-before-seen sides of the Sun (Image source: satellite: ESA / ATG medialab; Sun: NASA / SDO / P. Testa (CfA))

The cover, which is able to withstand extreme heat, was needed to enable the Solar Orbiter to study the Sun up close. Scientists are curious about how the Sun creates and operates the giant protective bubble that surrounds the solar system, the heliosphere, and why this bubble changes from time to time. To define the Sun’s activity cycle, researchers think the key could be the Arctic territories of the Sun. The Solar Orbiter is the first spacecraft that can give a picture of this mysterious region.

Before the Solar Orbiter was launched for its seven-year mission, all satellites examining the Sun moved along the ecliptic, but now scientists can look at the Sun from above and see the poles as well. This is especially important because space weather events can only be predicted with a sufficiently accurate model of the Sun's global magnetic field.

It is hoped that the Solar Orbiter will provide data in unprecedented detail on the relationship between the Sun and the events happening in the heliosphere. Based on these measurements scientists will likely to be able to determine what the connection is between what is happening on the Sun's surface and what we observe near to Earth.

Róbert Erdélyi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation and professor of astronomy at the University of Sheffield and at ELTE Institutional Excellence Program for the Higher Education is the member of the SPICE Team in the project. SPICE is the instrument that will study the plasma outflow of the Sun at its ultraviolet wavelength, i.e. the 4th state of matter of the material of the universe. The instrument plays an important role in exploring and predicting the development of focal points of solar flares, so-called active regions. Furthermore, due to the unique orbit of the satellite, the task of the SPICE camera is to study the physical conditions of the numerous collimated magnetic plasma jets forming on the surface of the Sun.

The SPICE instrument was developed by an international consortium led by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). At the celebration following the successful launch of the satellite on 10 February 2020, researchers at RAL in England informed the public about the mission of the solar satellite. Róbert Erdélyi in his keynote opening speech emphasized that the satellite helps to understand the flow of matter from the poles of the Sun that can speed up to thousands of km /s and is called the solar wind, which is a determining factor in our space weather.

At the celebration following the launch, the head of the UK Science and Technology Council, Róbert Erdélyi (second from left), the chief engineer and the senior engineer of SPICE cut a cake modeling the Solar Orbiter.

According to the researchers, we can expect preliminary results as early as May, but full, scientific processing of the data is expected to begin in November 2021.

Solar Orbiter satellite has been launched successfully

The Solar Orbiter satellite has been launched successfully at about 5am CET today.

We are pleased to share some moments of the celebration at RAL (Rutherford Appleton Lab, UK) that took place after Robertus delivered the keynote science talk about SOLO. RAL led the development of the SPICE instrument on-board the satellite. SPICE will observe the Sun in EUV with fantastic details. We are eagerly waiting for the polar images of the Sun, to be taken first time in history, that SOLO will provide after its cruising phase.

See for more information.

The QuEST for Sunspot Dynamics goes on! (The QuEST III)

The QuEST goes on! And episode 3 is already here! John Evershed discovered that the light coming from one side of sunspot penumbrae is shifted to the blue, whereas the light from the opposide side is shifted to the red. This phenomenon is known as the Evershed effect.

Don't miss the story of the Eversheds at Kodaikanal Solar Observatory in the third episode of our cartoons video series: "The QuEST for Sunspot Dynamics"

John and Mary Evershed spent most of their career at the Kodaikanal Observatory, where they discovered the existence of gas motions in the penumbra of sunspots.

See for more information.

PRE-EST Board Meeting and SOLARNET GA, Czech Academy, Prague

The consortium of the European Solar Telescope (EST) met last week in Prague to discuss the roadmap towards the future implementation of EST and assess the progress of the EST-related projects. The meetings, held over three days at the Czech Academy of Sciences, brought together a significant representation of the European Solar Physics community in the field of high spatial resolution.

Members of the PRE-EST project shared the latest strategic and technical developments related to EST. This project, funded by the EU H2020 programme to develop a detailed plan for the implementation of EST, has worked intensively during the last year to consolidate the EST design, including the adoption of an 800-mm adaptive secondary mirror to ensure that EST is equipped with the most advanced technology. All works have a clear aim in sight: having a detailed Construction Plan by 2022.

SOLARNET H2020 also held its first annual meeting in Prague. The EU-funded project, which continues the work started by its predecessor under the same name, aspires to integrate the major European infrastructures in the field of high-resolution solar physics. During this first meeting, a comprehensive review of the annual activities was made: networking activities and schools, mobility programmes to ensure access to research infrastructures, and joint research activities.

The meetings were supported by the Czech Republic Ministry of Youth, Education and Sport under the large research infrastructure project LM2018095. The commitment of the Czech Republic with EST was recently reaffirmed in the last update of the Czech National Infrastructure Roadmap, which prioritised and consolidated the Czech participation in the construction and operation of the European Solar Telescope.

EAST General Assembley, Charles University, Prague

The European Association for Solar Telescopes also held its annual meeting. After approving the minutes of ESAT GA 2019, reporting on EAST activities, EAST-TAC, Dr. Salvo Gugliemino (Università di Catania, Italy) was elected as the new EAST Executive Director (in substitution of Dr. Marco Stangalini).

Founded in 2006, the association is now formed by 26 institutions from 18 countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and UK). The goal of the association is to ensure access of European solar astronomers to world class ground-based high-resolution observing facilities. EAST is also the promoter of the European Solar Telescope.

The EAST president highlighted that the role of EAST, at the moment, is to guarantee continuity. Indeed, all the relevant activities are actually carried out within the framework of the EST related projects like SOLARNET and PRE-EST. For this reason, the activities carried out within EAST are very limited.

Dr. Rolf Schlichenmaier reported on the SOLARNET activities (see attached presentation) with a particular focus on the activities carried out during the first year of the project (i.e. milestones, deliverables). Following this presentation, the EAST TAC activities were discussed. The EAST Time Allocation Committee (EAST TAC) allocates the observing time of the SOLARNET ACCESS program, and the International Time Program (ITP) of the International Scientific Committee. During the presentation, Prof. Dan Kiselman also reported on the recent first call for computation time, for which only a limited number of proposals were received.

Given the difficulties linked to the major tasks and peculiarities of ground-based solar physics and data calibration, there followed a discussion on the possible role of SOLARNET in providing assistance to the community. It is agreed the feedbacks from the community are important to take actions aimed at optimizing the scientific return from the facilities currently available.

EST SAG, Charles University in Prague

Members of the European Solar Telescope consortium are in Prague attending several meetings to monitor the progress of the project.

The PRE-EST Executive Committee, the EST Science Advisory Group - the team responsible for developing science cases and identifying the key scientific requirements of the telescope- met this morning, as did the Project Office team. In the afternoon, the European Association for Solar Telescopes held its annual General Assembly.

Our Foundation’s member Marianna Korsós defended her PhD

The title of thesis: Developing a Novel Flare Prediction Method Based on the Debrecen Sunspot Data Catalogue

The continuous interaction between the Sun and our planet is made up of a series of complex events called, in short, space weather. Knowing and understanding the physical background of space weather is now essential to protect humanity and our highly advanced technosphere from high-energy rays that occasionally erupt from the Sun and pose a significant risk, as well as from high-velocity charged particle streams.

During the PhD studies, a new prediction method was developed to track the pre-flare dynamic changes of delta-type Active Regions (ARs) in hourly resolution at the photosphere level using the analysis of the SOHO / MDI-Debrecen sunspot catalog. The two new proxy parameters (G_M and WG_M) follow the temporal change of the horizontal gradient of the line-of-sight magnetic field in a delta-type sunspot between umbras with close but opposite magnetic polarities, from the moment of their appearance to the eruption of the flare. The detailed analysis of the temporal development of the two newly introduced parameters helped to identify new and highly characteristic pre-flare behaviors, i.e., flare precursors. Further statistical studies have shown that these flare precursors are suitable for estimating (i) the strength of the expected strongest flare outburst and (ii) the time of the expected flare outburst for eruptive events larger than M5. In addition, they are capable of estimating whether (iii) an eruptive event greater than M5 is expected in the next 18 hours.

In addition, two other important predictive parameters have been introduced in order to be able to pre-filter ARs whose development is worth following and applying the above-mentioned prognostic procedure to them. The first introduced parameter is the daily average of the horizontal gradient of the line-of-sight magnetic field (G_DS), while the second one is the separation parameter (S_L-F). These two pre-filter parameters characterize how mixed the opposite magnetic polarities of ARs are. A change in the magnitude of the two parameters over time can predict 24 hours in advance (or less likely, albeit up to 48 hours in advance) whether or not the expected high-energy flare outburst will be accompanied by a CME eruption that is dangerous to us.

3rd UK Solar Orbiter Workshop, St Andrews

We are pleased to announce that the 3rd UK Solar Orbiter Workshop took place at the University of St Andrews between the 13-14th January 2020. The meeting occurred just before the launch of Solar Orbiter in February 2020..

The Workshop took place in the School of Physics, part of the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland in Lecture Theatre C. Prof Erdélyi participated at the meeting and discussed some future collaborations. In particular, on his way, he stopped by at Durham University to discuss the future and further development of the SAMM (Solar Activity Magnetic Monitor) telescope at GSO (Gyula, Bay Zoltán Solar Observatory) of SAMNet (Solar Activity Monitor Network).

Abstracts can be found on the meeting webpage at: here.

EST Calendar 2020

Dear EST lovers, The new EST Calendar 2020 has arrived!

You can download it from our website HERE. You can upload the calendar to your personal social networks, tag us, and use the hashtag ESTCalendar2020. The subject of the calendars this year are the EST Science Targets. In the calendar we have tried to showcase the most interesting science cases that the teams working for EST are performing at the moment, and how EST will help to improve their results.

Formation of solar plasma jets hundreds of times the size of Hungary and subsequent coronal heating unveiled

The outer atmosphere of the Sun, which extends outward for several million kilometers beyond the visible solar surface, is called the corona. Although the temperature in the core of the Sun is as high as 15 million degrees, it drops to a mere 5700 degrees at the solar surface (photosphere). Above the photosphere, however, the temperature starts to increase again with height, reaching millions of degrees or more in the corona. What causes this coronal-temperature increase is one of the biggest yet-to-be-solved mysteries in modern astrophysics, because the temperature increases as one goes further and further away from the heat source instead of dropping. To give an analogy, you expect to get colder as you move away from a hot oven, not hotter. But such a “temperature increase with distance from source” is just what happens in the corona of our start, the Sun.

Solar spicules, originally discovered by Father Secchi in 1877, are small-scale (~200-500 km wide) magnetized geyser-like jets observed ubiquitously in the solar chromosphere, the interface between the photosphere and corona. These jets are narrow columns of plasma that dynamically shoot upward to heights of about 5,000 km above the solar surface. It is estimated that at any given moment in time there are about a million spicules in the solar atmosphere, forming a forest of thin and magnetized plasma ejecta. Many solar physicists suspect that spicules serve as a conduit for mass and energy to flow from the lower atmosphere to the corona. In other words, spicules may be the key to solving the coronal heating problem. It is also conjectured that if about 1 % of spicular material is able to leave the Sun in the form of solar wind that would be sufficient to provide the plasma that is filling the interplanetary space between the Sun and planets. However, it is still unclear whether they provide sufficient energy to sustain the million-degree hot corona and drive the solar wind.

A composite image of the solar corona obtained during the 2017 total solar eclipse. The solar disk part is a 171 Å image taken by the AIA telescope of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft. The off-limb part shows a composite and enhanced image of the coronal red line and green line taken by two telescopes of China’s Peking University and Yunnan Observatories, respectively (Chen et al. 2018, Astrophys. J.).

Despite the importance of these magnetized jets, their formation process is still poorly understood. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the origin of spicules, such as the passage of shock waves with a major contribution from colleagues from Eotvos University (De Pontieu, Erdelyi and James, Nature, 2004), upward forces associated with magnetized plasma wave propagation, magnetic forces amplified through interactions between neutral and charged particles, warps in two-dimensional sheet-like structures, propulsion by huge magnetized plasma swirls (another major contribution lead by our ELTE professor (Nature Communication 2019), “reconnection” between oppositely-directed magnetic fields, and so on. To date however, there is still no consensus in the astrophysical community on the spicule-production mechanism. A major impediment to our understanding of the formation process of spicules is simply that they are very hard to see well: they are so small (narrow) that they are near the limit of what our earlier telescopes have been able to resolve. That is, earlier telescopes were of insufficient resolution and sensitivity for us to observe spicules well enough to sort through which of the many ideas might be correct. Now, new high spatial resolution and high time-cadence observations have unveiled groundbreaking insight into the generation mechanism of many spicules, and into the possible contribution of spicules to coronal heating.

Prof Erdelyi, the Head of SP2RC research group at SoMaS, Sheffield University and at Dept of Astronomy, Eotvos University said “The current state-of-the-art observations gave an entirely new opportunity for us to look into the origin of these plasma ejecta that puzzle astrophysicists well over a century. Progess was made by bringing together observeres, modellers and theoreticians. We cannot now await to move even further when ever larger telescopes, like the Danile K. Innouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) next year, or in the near future the European Solar Telescope (EST) will be available with even higher resolution capabilities.”

The present study on this highly-debated and fundamental astrophysical topic of solar spicules was carried out by an international team led by Dr. T Samanta and Prof. H Tian from Peking University, China. Other team members included a mix of junior and senior scientist. For the membership of the international research team please see the author list. The team performed observations with the 1.6-m Goode Solar Telescope (GST) at the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the world’s largest-aperture and highest-resolution solar telescope that is currently operational (Fig. 2). The telescope observed copious spicules at ultra-high spatial resolution (~45 km) and high cadence (~3.5 s) using the Hydrogen-alpha (Hα) spectral line, and simultaneously measured the magnetic fields in the solar photosphere at high-spatial resolution (~150 km).

The Goode Solar Telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory (Image courtesy of Wenda Cao and Philippe Henarejos).

Their observations show that the dynamic interaction of magnetic fields with different polarities is responsible for the generation of many spicules. Spicules mostly originate from the boundaries of the so-called magnetic network (a grid-like pattern on the solar surface where magnetic field is highly concentrated into vertical tubes). Bursts of spicules are often accompanied by the emergence of new magnetic elements near the spicule footpoints, where the newly emerging magnetic elements have a polarity opposite to the dominant polarity of the already existing magnetic network (Fig.3). Although small-scale magnetic flux emerges ubiquitously in the quiet-Sun, only when it is close to the strong existing network fields (often within 3000 km) does it generate spicules. Magnetic flux cancellation (the decrease of magnetic flux with time when two opposite-polarity flux elements run into each other), a signature of magnetic field line reconnection, is clearly identified at the footpoints of some spicules.

Left: H&alpha blue wing image showing solar spicules (the elongated dark features). Right: Two examples show that spicules originate from the interaction between opposite-polarity magnetic fields. The overlain blue and red contours represent magnetic fields with opposite polarities (Samanta et al. 2019, Science). Data courtesy: BBSO/GST.

These observations strongly support the hypothesis that the process of magnetic reconnection drives many spicules. The new study found this general progression of events leading to spicules: Weak magnetic fields appear frequently near the existing large-scale network fields. Occasionally, small-scale weak fields of polarity opposite that of the network will grow outward and migrate toward the network, where they reconnect with the adjacent or overlying network field in the upper photosphere or low chromosphere, and this produces the spicules.

To learn about the relationship between spicules and the hot solar corona, the team matched the BBSO spicules observations with simultaneous observations from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft. From this joint data set, they found that it is very common for spicules to be heated to typical coronal temperatures. Coronal emission (visible in images of the 171 A passband that is sensitive to emission from million-degree materials) clearly appears at the top of the observed spicules (Fig.4). While connections between some spicules and hot corona have been seen before (e.g., De Pontieu et al. 2011), the team’s cutting-edge observations provide the best evidence yet that magnetic reconnection in the partially ionized lower solar atmosphere drives spicules and produces hot plasma flows into the corona, thus providing a direct link between magnetic activities in the lower atmosphere and coronal heating. Advanced computer simulations and theoretical investigations based on these new groundbreaking observational results should be performed in the future to help solving the long-standing coronal heating problem.

Two examples showing that coronal emission appears at the top of spicules. Each panel shows a Hα blue wing (grey) image overlain with the simultaneously taken AIA 171 A (yellow) image (Samanta et al. 2019, Science). Data courtesy: NASA/SDO and BBSO/GST.


  • T. Samanta, H. Tian, V. Yurchyshyn, H. Peter, W. Cao, A. Sterling, R. Erdélyi, K. Ahn, S. Feng, D. Utz, D. Banerjee, Y. Chen, Science 366, 890 (2019).
  • Y. Chen, H. Tian, Y. Su, et al., Astrophys. J. 856, 21 (2018).
  • B. De Pontieu, S. W. McIntosh, M. Carlsson, et al., Science 331, 55 (2011).
  • B De Pontieu, R. Erdelyi, S. P. James, Nature, 430, 536 (2004).
  • Videos: (Samanta et al. 2019, Science; Data courtesy of BBSO/GST and NASA/SDO).

    Notes: The journal Nature Communications should be credited as the source of the research article. All images can be used if proper credits are given. For further scientific information, please contact: Professor Robertus Erdélyi (Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com, or Dept. of Astronomy, Eötvös University, Budapest (Hungary), on email robertus@sheffield.ac.uk. For further media information please contact: Dr Bernadett Belucz, Public Affairs Manager, Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, Gyula (Hungary), on email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com.

Prof R. Erdelyi visited a number of Chines universities and research institutions

Prof R. Erdelyi visited a number of Chines universities and research institutions (USTC, Hefei; NAOC, Beijing; Peking University; Ningbo University, Wuhan University) as part of a CAS PIFI award to collaborate on MHD wavs, jets, spicules, vortexes and nonlinear fluid waves.

He delivered a number of seminars and colloquia during this period. One of the great outcomes of this visit was the 1st SAMNet meeting on 23 December 2019 at Hefei University, where colleagues from a many of the major Chines solar observatories represented themselve. A MoU was formulated and modus operandi established towards manifesting the Chinese nodes of SAMNet. RE also visited Wuhan University to further discuss the development of a tuneable MOF with solar applications.

SWIMMR (Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk) Project Kick-Off Meeting

The kick-off event for the Space Weather Innovation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk Study (one of the Wave 2 programmes of the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund) took place in the Wolfson Library of the Royal Society on Tuesday November 26th. Seventy-five people attended the event, representing a range of academic institutions, as well as representatives from industry, government and public sector research establishments such as the UK Met Office.

SWIMMR (Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk) is a £20 million, four-year programme that will improve the UK's capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction. There will be an emphasis on space radiation, which can affect aircraft systems, changes in the upper atmosphere, affecting communications, and surges in the current in power grids and other ground-level systems. These are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life and are recorded in the UK's National Risk Register.

SWIMMR will develop and deploy new instruments, models and services to support the UK space weather community and the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre. This programme will significantly add to the UK's capability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather, as well as providing a basis for wider international collaboration over the four year lifetime of the proposal and beyond.

The funding forms part of the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), delivered by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) to drive an increase in high quality multi- and interdisciplinary research and innovation. It will ensure that UKRI's investment links up effectively with government research priorities and opportunities. The programme is a collaboration led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with NERC and supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Defence. The programme has been outlined in close association with the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC).

The programme will be delivered through a series of activities managed by either STFC or NERC. The STFC funding component will be delivered via a mixture of open calls for research projects and commissioned work under standard public sector procurement rules. Both types of activity will directly help improve the ability of the Met Office to predict space weather events so as to reduce their potential impact.

For more information here.

2020 SPICE Operations Consortium Meeting

Prof R. Erdely delivered the Science talk: MHD Wave Coupling in the Solar Atmosphere - Waves, Vortexes, Instabilities.

Topics were discussed:

  • Solar Orbiter status;
  • SPICE instrument status;
  • MISO development status;
  • Science WG report (science studies, dumbbell usage etc.);
  • Commissioning update;
  • EIS/IRIS/EVE cross-calibration campaigns.

The SUCOSIP process starts for the evaluation of a possible location for EST at ORM

A proposal has been presented to the International Scientific Committee of the Observatorios de Canarias (CCI) to consider a location near the Swedish Solar Telescope (ORM, La Palma) as a preferential site.

Proposed EST site at Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, near the Swedish Solar Telescope (lowermost facility) and the William Herschel Telescope (at the top left). Photo: Gabriel Pérez (IAC)

The EST project presented a proposal to the International Scientific Committee of the Observatorios de Canarias (CCI) to consider a location near the Swedish Solar Telescope (SST) at the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos (ORM, La Palma) as a preferential site for the telescope, following the decision adopted by the EST project Board on October 4th. The proposal was presented to the SUCOSIP (SUb-COmmittee on SIte Properties of the International Scientific Committee) during its meeting in La Laguna on November 13th, 2019. SUCOSIP is a committee of experts which, among other tasks, supervises the impact that proposed new infrastructures may have on existing facilities and recommends actions that could minimise this impact.

SUCOSIP acknowledged the excellence of the proposed site for solar observations, as has been demonstrated by the outstanding performance of the SST. The group recommended that the EST project perform further analyses to study the influence of the EST building and associated facilities on the nearby William Herschel Telescope, taking into account the particular wind profiles at the observatory. The impact on other minor surrounding facilities should also be analysed. SUCOSIP concluded that it is most important to carry out parallel solar site testing measurements at the SST and the Vacuum Tower Telescope (VTT), located at Teide Observatory (OT, Tenerife) using the Wide-Field Wavefront Sensor installed by the Stockholm University at these two telescopes. The outcome of such parallel measurements will be most interesting for the diurnal characterisation of both observatories.

SUCOSIP presented these recommendations to the CCI during its 82nd meeting, held in the University of La Laguna on November 14th, 2019. The CCI agreed with the recommended actions. The process of evaluation will require further iterations in SUCOSIP's future meetings before a final decision by the CCI can be taken.

Meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias

Scientists and engineers from the European Solar Telescope participated in FITOC2019, the meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias.

Scientists and engineers from the European Solar Telescope have participated in FITOC2019, the meeting on Future Instruments for the Telescopes at the Observatorios de Canarias. The event was held in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) from 11 to 13 November, and gathered more than 80 international experts.

Mary Barreto, EST Technical Director, was one of the speakers. Barreto gave an update on EST ongoing work, which at this point focuses mainly on the design and construction plan, and the site selection. Barreto also emphasized the international aspect of this project, in which 26 European research institutions are involved, "making EST a truly European venture".

The day before, EST engineer Icíar Montilla, from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, had presented the main projects on adaptive optics being developed by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, including the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics system (MCAO) for EST, designed to correct the turbulence for a wide range of observing elevations, from the zenith down to very near the horizon, providing high spatial resolution observations in the visible over large fields of view. During her talk, she dubbed the MCAO as "one of the most challenging AO systems ever built, with uniform correction over a field of view of 1 arcminute at 500nm running at 2KHz". Earlier, EST researcher Dan Kiselman, from the Institute for Solar Physics (Stockholm University), called the Swedish Solar Telescope "a trailblazer for EST", and listed the lessons learnt from this telescope, one of EST's older sisters together with THEMIS and GREGOR.

The objective of the meeting was to examine the plans for existing and future instrumentation installed in the Canary Island observatories, whether for night observations, including infrared and high energy astrophysics, or solar physics. Key issues for discussions were the future scientific direction of the observatories, possible "blind spots" and overlaps between instrumentation, synergies between current and prospective facilities, and the specific observational strengths of Observatorios de Canarias.

For more information, check out the meeting website at: here.

The European Solar Telescope participates in the ESFRI Workshop on the Future of Research Infrastructures

As one of the infrastructures included on the ESFRI Roadmap 2016, the European Solar Telescope attended ESFRI workshop on the Future of Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area.

From 6 to 8 November, La Palma (Spain) hosted a wokshop on the Future of Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area. Organised by ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, the meeting gathered more than 100 representatives of major European science infrastructures, including the European Solar Telescope - which was included on the ESFRI Roadmap in 2016.

Intended as a comprehensive reflection process on the current challenges and future role of existing and future European research infrastructures, the meeting was co-organised by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, the EST consortium coordinator. During his welcome speech, Rafael Rebolo, IAC Director, emphasized the need for the European Solar Telescope to become a reality and to function as a global infrastructure, open not only to European researchers but also to Asian scientists. Extending cooperation outside European borders was also emphasized by Adam Tyson, Head of the Unit for Research and Industrial Infrastructures of the European Commission. Tyson added that research infrastructures "need a strategic vision that goes beyond the area in which they work, generating connections and providing services that help researchers face today's major problems such as climate change or digital transition".

Topics covered during the workshop included the integration of infrastructures in the European Open Science Cloud, financing models, good practices, synergies with other national programmes and infrastructures, and the role of European research infrastructures in enhancing the innovation and competitiveness of the European Research Area. The discussions and reflections will be used to write a prospective white paper on the future of research infrastructures in Europe.

ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, is a strategic instrument to develop European scientific integration and to strengthen its international outreach. Its mission is to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe, and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to their better use and development, at EU and international level. It was established in 2002 with a mandate from the EU Council.

Recordings of the workshop can be found at: here.

Magnetic plasma pulses excited by Hungary-size swirls in the solar atmosphere

An international team of scientists led by Prof Robertus Erdélyi (Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation [HSPF], Eötvös University (Budapest) and University of Sheffield (UK)) have discovered previously undetected observational evidence of frequent energetic wave pulses with the size of the UK, transporting energy from the solar surface to the higher solar atmosphere.

Magnetic plasma waves and pulses have been widely suggested as one of the key mechanisms which could answer the long-standing question of why the temperature of the solar atmosphere rises dramatically from thousands to millions of degrees as you move away from the solar surface.

There have been many theories put forward, including some developed at HSPF, Eötvös and Sheffield Universities – for example, heating the plasma by magnetic waves or magnetic plasma – but observational validation of the ubiquity of a suitable energy transport mechanism has proved challenging until now.

By developing innovative approaches, astronomers at the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, Department of Astronomy of Eötvös University (Budapest, Hungary), applied mathematicians at the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) in the School of Maths and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and the University of Science and Technology of China have discovered unique observational evidence of plentiful energetic wave pulses, named after the Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén, in the solar atmosphere.

These short-lived Alfvén pulses have been found to be generated by prevalent photospheric plasma swirls several times the size of Hungary, which are suggested to have a population of at least 150,000 in the solar photosphere at any moment of time.

Professor Robertus Erdélyi (a.k.a. von Fáy-Siebenbürgen), said: “Swirling motions are everywhere in the Universe, from sinking water in domestic taps with a size of centimeters, to tornadoes on Earth and on the Sun, solar jets and spiral galaxies with a size of up to 520,000 light years. This work has shown, for the first time, the observational evidence that ubiquitous swirls in the solar atmosphere could generate short-lived Alfvén pulses.”

“The generated Alfvén pulses easily penetrate the solar atmosphere along cylinder-like magnetic flux tubes, a form of magnetism a bit like trees in a forest. The pulses could travel all the way upward and reach the top of the solar chromospheric layers, or, even beyond.”

“Alfvén modes are currently very hard to observe directly, because they do not cause any local intensity concentrations or rarefactions as they make their journey through a magnetised plasma. They are hard to be observationally distinguished from some other types of magnetic plasma modes, like the well-known transversal magnetic plasma waves, often called kink modes.

“The energy flux carried by the Alfvén pulses we detected now are estimated to be more than 10 times higher than that needed for heating the local upper solar chromosphere”, said Dr Jiajia Liu, postdoctoral research associate.”

Illustration of the Alfvén-pulse connection between plasma swirls observed in the solar photosphere and chromosphere. The photospheric and chromospheric images were recorded with the Hinode satellite, while colored lines between are visualizing the presence of magnetic field lines from our realistic numerical simulations using the Sheffield Advanced Code (SAC). Red and blue curves are swirls detected by the Automated Swirl Detection Algorithm (ASDA) developed by us. Credits: Liu et al. Nature Communications, 10:3504, 2019

“The chromosphere is a relatively thin layer between the solar surface and the extremely hot corona. The solar chromosphere appears as a red ring around the Sun during total solar eclipses.”

Professor Erdélyi added: “It has been a fascinating question for the scientific community for a long while – how the Sun and many other stars supply energy and mass to their upper atmospheres. Our results, as part of an exciting collaboration with a leading Chinese university, involving some of the very best early-career scientists like Drs Jiajia Liu, Chris Nelson and Ben Snow, are an important step forward in addressing the supply of the needed non-thermal energy for solar and astrophysical plasma heating.”

Visualisation of the analytical model in the Supplementary Material of Liu et al. Nature Communications, 10:3504, 2019. The gray cylinder represents a magnetic flux tube while green lines are magnetic field lines. Regions with the purple color in the field lines highlight the location of the propagating magnetic Alfvén pulse. Different colors on the central disk represent different local plasma densities. The figure illustrates how a magnetic Alfvén plasma pulse will show up as the observed chromospheric swirls. An online animation of this figure is available.Credits: Liu et al. Nature Communications, 10:3504, 2019

“We believe, these Hungary-sized or even bigger photospheric magnetic plasma swirls are also very promising candidates not just for energy but also for mass transportation between the lower and upper layers of the solar atmosphere. Our future research with my colleagues at SP2RC will now focus on this new puzzle.

The research, published by Nature Inc., involved postdoctoral researchers Drs Jiajia Liu, Chris Nelson and Ben Snow from the University of Sheffield in collaboration with Professor Yuming Wang from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei.”

Notes: The discovery has been published as an article in the prestigious journal of Nature Communications. Competition for publication in this journal is intense as only break-through results from a broad range of sciences are considered. The journal Nature Communications should be credited as the source of the research article. All images can be used if proper credits are given. For further scientific information, please contact: Professor Robertus Erdélyi (Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com, or Dept. of Astronomy, Eötvös University, Budapest (Hungary), on email robertus@sheffield.ac.uk. For further media information please contact: Dr Bernadett Belucs, Public Affairs Manager, Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, Gyula (Hungary), on email: solarphysicsfoundation@gmail.com.


Topics were discussed as:

  • Discuss the revised version of Part III of the SRD;
  • Finalise EST SRD update 2019;
  • Planning for first meeting of SAG and EST project office at IAC.

PRE-EST Extraordinary Board Meeting

Topics were discussed as:

  • National Roadmaps update and future perspectives;
  • Approval of the Contribution for the Preparatory Phase of EST;
  • Preparatory Phase of EST – PRE-EST extension;
  • LEST site as potential location for EST.

The European Solar Telescope at the European Researchers' Night 2019

On Friday and Saturday 27-28 September 2019, the European Researchers' Night was celebrated across the continent. All over Europe, scientists and engineers took the streets and opened their laboratories to the European citizens.

The European Solar Telescope joined the effort as well, and events were organised in ten European cities: Athens (Greece), Budapest (Hungary), Catania and Rome (Italy), Dublin (Ireland), Granada and La Laguna (Spain), Ondřejov (Czech Republic). Poprad (Slovakia), and Stockholm (Sweden). Children and adults alike participated in solar observations, attended conferences and workhops and had the opportunity to meet EST scientists and engineers, learn about solar physics research, and discover the opportunities the EST will open.

The Department of Astronomy at Eötvos Lorànd University is organizing a numbers of exciting open programmes for the European Researchers' Night. From noon onwards, visitors will have the opportunity to observe the Sun with optical and H-alpha telescopes (subject to suitable weather). Detailed explanations will be provided by department staff, who will also answer any questions about astronomy that visitors may have. In addition a series of shows will be organized in the late afternoon in the Planetarium, and Dr. Bernadett Belucz will give an educational talk covering stellar constellations and their history, the Sun and planets, star formation, Hungarian research in astronomy, and the European Solar Telescope.

Prof R. Erdelyi visited a number of Chines universities and research institutions

Prof R. Erdelyi visited a number of Chines universities and research institutions (USTC, Hefei; NAOC, Beijing; Peking University; Ningbo University) to collaborate on MHD wavs, jets, spicules, vortexes and nonlinear fluid waves.

He delivered a number of seminars and colloquia during this period. One of the great outcomes of this visit was a paper published in Science on spicule formation. The paper is available here.

Spicules are small jets of plasma from the surface of the Sun that last a few minutes. Around a million are occurring at any moment, even during periods of low solar activity. The mechanism responsible for launching spicules remains unknown, as is their contribution to heating the solar corona. Samanta et al. observed emerging spicules and the magnetic fields in the adjacent solar surface. They found that many spicules appear a few minutes after a patch of reverse-polarity magnetic field and that the overlying corona is heated shortly afterward. This result provides evidence that magnetic reconnection can generate spicules, which then transfer energy to the corona.

Spicules are rapidly evolving fine-scale jets of magnetized plasma in the solar chromosphere. It remains unclear how these prevalent jets originate from the solar surface and what role they play in heating the solar atmosphere. Using the Goode Solar Telescope at the Big Bear Solar Observatory, we observed spicules emerging within minutes of the appearance of opposite-polarity magnetic flux around dominant-polarity magnetic field concentrations. Data from the Solar Dynamics Observatory showed subsequent heating of the adjacent corona. The dynamic interaction of magnetic fields (likely due to magnetic reconnection) in the partially ionized lower solar atmosphere appears to generate these spicules and heat the upper solar atmosphere.

Preparing for the next generation of ground-based solar physics observations

Prof Robertus Erdelyi delivered a talk on SAMNet - Solar Activity Monitor Network - A ground-based MOF network supporting space weather nowcasting.

With the advent of new facilities such as the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and the proposed European Solar Telescope (EST), ground-based solar observations are on the cusp of experiencing a renaissance. These new facilities will probe the Sun at spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions beyond that previously possible as a result of new technical advances. There will also be a much-enhanced capacity for spectropolarimetric studies, which will need developments in our modelling capability and will open up opportunities for new instrumentation. The aim of this 3-day workshop was to bring together experts in observations, modelling and theory to prepare for first light from DKIST, which is expected later this year. In addition to two days of scientific discussion, there was also a third day dedicated to discussing next generation instrumentation, in preparation for EST and the 2nd generation instrumentation for DKIST. In particular, the aim of the third day was to identify and discuss novel materials, designs and approaches to observing the Sun that could be used for both ground-based and potentially also space-based observing. Therefore the workshop was of great interest to all of us working in the area of fundamental research, modelling and instrument developments.

The workshop will be held at MSSL from 23 - 25 July 2019; see Venue page for map and access details.

Space Climate 7- The Future of Solar Activity

The Space Climate Symposia Series brings together leading experts in the field of space climate.

The objectives of the Symposia are three-fold:

  • to better understand the causes and effects of long-term variations in solar activity, with focus on the solar magnetic dynamo, and how the magnetic field it generates produces the various phenomena collectively making up solar activity: e.g., sunspots, flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes, high-speed solar wind streams etc;
  • to better understand how the varying solar activity affects the near-Earth space, atmosphere and even climate, on time scales ranging from a few solar rotations up to several millennia;
  • to better understand the intricacies of the various datasets used to make inferences about long-term solar variations: e.g., the sunspot number time series and geomagnetic observations.
  • You can find the daily program in PDF here and list of posters in PDF version here.

    Robertus Erdélyi and Marianna Korsos participated at Space Climate 7 symposia, you can read the abstract here.

National Astronomy Meeting 2019

The Royal Astronomical Society is proud to present the National Astronomy Meeting, to be held at Lancaster University in July 2019. NAM2019 will bring together hundreds of delegates from the UK astronomy community and will feature a wide-ranging scientific programme in parallel with exciting outreach and cultural events.

A formal welcome to the conference was given by the President of the RAS, Prof. Mike Cruise, and the Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, Prof. Mark E. Smith.

more here

View Programme by Session

In addition to the talks and posters, they have a range of plenary talks throughout the week. More details can be found here.

Full details of all of the oral presentations in the parallel sessions can also be downloaded as a single PDF, available here.

Noémi Zsámberger had a talk: MHD waves in multi-layered waveguides ( abstract)

Solar Physics Summer School at Raman Science Center, Leh (Indian Institute of Astrophysics)

The influence of the Sun on the Earth and on our technology is modulated by the solar activity cycle. The summer school focussed on the Physics of the Sun and Sun – Earth connection. The one week long international school introduced and trained the PhD students to the state-of-the-art theoretical and data analysis techniques. The techniques taught in the school have enhance the scientific outcome from various space as well as ground based observatories, with particular emphasis on Aditya-L1 of the Indian Space Research Organization.

This was a truely international School. The School's programme consisted of a set of specialised lectures (Robertus gave 3 pectures: MHD, MHD Waves and Solar AMgnto-Seismology) in advanced topics in solar physics, as well as hands-on and transferrable skills sessions in solar data analysis.

Approximately 35 students were lucky to be there after a competitive process and online application system. The school lasted for six wonderful days, and each participant was provided with local hospitality and some travel support.

more here

We have also visited Pagong Lake for the NLST site and possible for a SAMNet node and discussed with scientists seeing and other environmental issues.

The Science Advisory Group updates the science requirement document

The Science Advisory Group presented a draft of the final version in May 2019. One of the main goals of the document is to identify critical science requirements for the telescope.

The SAG was constituted in November 2017 by the General Assembly of EAST and the Board of the PRE-EST project. It was charged with the task of providing a final statement on the science requirements.

Based on the conceptual design, the update of the Science Requirement Document (SRD) takes into account recent technical and scientific developments, to ensure that EST provides significant advancement beyond the current state-of-the-art.

The SRD develops the top-level science objectives of EST into individual science cases. Identifying critical science requirements is one of its main goals. Those requirements will define the capabilities of EST and the post-focus instrument suite. The technical requirements for the final design of EST will be derived from the SRD.

EST science cases. In May 2019, the SAG presented a draft of the final version of the SRD. Such a draft is currently under discussion.

The science cases collected in the SRD are not intended to cover all the science questions to be addressed with EST, but rather to provide a precise overview of the capabilities that will make EST a competitive state-of-the-art telescope, one to push the boundaries of our knowledge over the next few decades.

Those science cases are then translated into observing programmes describing the type of detailed observations needed to solve specific science problems. An effort is being made to define the parameters of the required observations as accurately as possible, taking into account both present capabilities and technological developments expected inthe near future.

As the top-level goal of EST is to understand small-scale processes in the solar atmosphere, it is designed to be a solar ‘microscope’. EST should be capable of reaching the highest possible image quality and spatial resolution. The final design must be optimised for the highest possible photon flux, with the premises of securing polarimetric accuracy and sensitivity.

2nd China-Europe Solar Physics Meeting

Main aim of this meeting was to strengthen the collaboration between European and Chinese scientists, in particular among young scientists. The scientific sessions were included the following topics:

  • 1) Solar Interior, Dynamo and the Solar Cycle;
  • 2) Heating and Coupling of the Solar Atmosphere layers;
  • 3) Fundamental Plasma Processes: Magnetic Reconnection, Waves, Emission, Particle Acceleration;
  • 4) Manifestations and Triggering of Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections;
  • 5) Solar-Terrestrial Relations, Solar Wind, Space Weather and Space Climate.

Photos are here.

EST, sponsor of the IAU 100th anniversary celebrations

The Flagship Event was held on April 11-12 at the Palais des Academies (Brussels, Belgium), and the IAU Amateur Astronomy Day took place the following day. A representation of EST participated in the celebrations.

The International Astronomical Union was founded exactly one century ago, in 1919. To commemorate this milestone, the IAU has organized a number of activities worldwide, with the motto “IAU 100 Years: Under One Sky”.

The Flagship Event was held on April 11-12 at the Palais des Academies (Brussels, Belgium). Prominent astronomers, astronauts, policy makers, and high-level representatives gave talks with a focus on the role of astronomy for diplomacy, peace, development, education, and the arts, as well as the involvement of the high-tech industry.

On April 13, the IAU Amateur Astronomy Day took place at the same venue. The event acknowledged the contributions of amateur astronomers to the advancement of astronomy. There were talks showcasing collaborative projects between professional and amateur astronomers, and parallel sessions where amateur astronomical associations exposed their work and history.

As one of the IAU100 Organisational Associates, the EST project was invited to attend the Flagship Event and the IAU Amateur Astronomy Day. A representation of EST from RoCS/UiO (Norway) and IAA-CSIC (Spain) participated in those meetings, advocating for EST and networking with other astronomers as well as with the amateur community. Amateur astronomers in particular showed a big interest in solar observations and enthusiasm in this pan-European project.

SOLARNET Kick-Off Meeting (1st General Assembly of SOLARNET) Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in Brussels

Venue: Spanish Research Council (CSIC) Brussels Delegation, Rue du Trône 62

Rolf Schlichenmaier, the coordinator of SOLARNET welcomed all the participants. The SOLARNET project officer, Keji Adumno, was also present. The coordinator gratefully acknowledged the help of the Project Officer during the grant agreement preparation phase.

All presentations from the coordinator and the work package leaders that are presented during the Kick-Off meeting are available at: here To view the presentations, click on "Conference contributions".

The follwoign were discussed:

  • Overview of SOLARNET Project (by Rolf Schlichenmaier)
  • Compilation of Partner Representatives for the SOLARNET General Assembly
  • Welcome and Guidelines by EU Project Officer
  • Presentation of Work Packages 1 -10
  • Chair of SOLARNET General Assembly
  • Election of WP leaders

Extreme space weather can wreak havoc on Earth. These tools help warn of the dangers ahead (Source: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine)

On a hot day in August 1972 toward the end of the Vietnam War, dozens of naval mines off the coast of Hai Phong in North Vietnam began to explode without warning. In March 1989, a magnetic surge tripped circuits, knocking out power in the entire Canadian province of Quebec. While in 1859, an event sparked telegraph lines, igniting fires, and northern lights so bright that British stargazers could read newspapers at night. These days, scientists know that all these events were caused by intense space weather, capable of wreaking havoc on electric grids and electromagnetically sensitive technology.

Importantly, modern scientists have something that observers decades ago did not – sophisticated satellite data and modelling that can forecast space weather with accuracy.

‘If space weather forecasting is inaccurate…space storms can result in disruption in the operation of satellites, interruptions of communication, incorrect navigation data from GPS satellites, force the rerouting of polar flight paths, or set up ground induced currents that can severely impact the operation of power grids and pipelines,’ said Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, who headed up a project called PROGRESS at the University of Sheffield in the UK.

During high periods of solar activity, the sun flings off massive chunks of changed plasma which can severely damage technological infrastructure on Earth. Image Credit - NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

Along with other scientists, he coordinated the work to improve the reliability of systems that predict space weather events by measuring the solar wind from distances further away from Earth than previously possible.

Solar activity follows an 11-year cycle of high and low periods. Those high periods are when it is most likely for events like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) to occur, where the sun flings off massive bulks of charged plasma into space. These charged particles, when directed towards Earth, can impact in as soon as half a day’s time. Many times the first real warning can only come an hour before.

‘The consequences of space weather hazards can result in anything from a mild operational inconvenience to total loss of segments of our modern technological infrastructure,’ said Prof. von Fay- Siebenburgen.

‘A worst-case scenario may cause the setback of the economy of a country even up to a decade.’

Solar storms have caused sea mines on Earth to explode and unusually bright northern lights in the past. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

Improved forecasts

That’s where improved forecasts come in.

‘If we can successfully forecast the state of the solar wind at L1 (a point between the Earth and Sun where gravitation forces are equal) based on observations of the solar disk, we can increase this forecast horizon to about one day (in a worst-case scenario),’ he said.

One way the project did this was by using more advanced computer modelling, instead of having to wait for observed results.

Using machine learning to sift through data, computers can predict the level of geomagnetic activity due to the interaction of the solar wind with the terrestrial magnetic field, forecasting how particles travel between the magnetic field and radiation belts.

For instance, what effect particles cause can depend greatly on the direction of a CME’s magnetic field.

‘Some of these particles may lose their energy to the atmosphere causing the aurora borealis/australis. Other particles can gain energy, thus posing a threat to the satellites orbiting in the vicinity of the radiation belts. Solar flares may emit intense bursts of X-rays that can penetrate deep into the ionosphere severely disrupting radio communications and navigation systems,’ Prof. von Fay- Siebenburgen said.

He thinks that we still have a long way to go in improving forecasts, noting that a ground-based monitoring network or satellites positioned to the side of or behind the Sun relative to the Earth could lead to further improvements.

‘These systems (ground- or space-based) would enable a reliable forecasting by up to three to five days, a lead time that the industry and other stakeholder have highly desired for a long time.’

Alternative views

Dr Richard Harrison at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK is on a similar track. He and colleagues in a project called HELCATS, used a satellite set up to monitor the Sun and Earth from a side view, known as STEREO, to gather data on CMEs and how they vary in speed, density, and direction throughout a solar cycle.

‘The idea was to exploit the STEREO Heliospheric Imaging data, with observations of over 1000 CMEs from 2007 onwards, and apply the latest and best analysis and modelling techniques to investigate the identification, tracking, and prediction of CME events in the heliosphere,’ he said.

By combining solar events seen from imaging with modelling, they were able to help improve predictions of arrival times on Earth by better understanding how CMEs interact with one another as they propagate outward from the Sun.

‘The HELCATS project is a resource for the research community. The catalogues will continue to be widely exploited and the assessment of the models has had a lasting impact on our approach to studies of Earth-impacting events,’ he said.

‘Forecasting space weather is becoming more and more important and our modern technologies are far more susceptible to impacts from space weather. The threat is recognised to the extent that severe space weather is now listed on the national risk registers of many countries.’

Spanish Research Council (CSIC) Brussels Delegation, Rue du Trône, 62, Brussels

Mariann Korsos represented Hungary. The following topics were discussed:

  • WP1 “Project Coordination and Management”
  • WP2 “EST Governance”
  • WP3 “EST Legal Structure”
  • WP4 “Financial Schemes of EST and Strategic Actions”
  • WP5 “Strategic Actions to Reinforce EST Visibility and Trans-national Engagement”
  • WP6 “Technical Works and Site Evaluation”

Discussion on aspects to be highlighted for the MTR.

PRE-EST Board meeting in Brussels

PRE-EST partners meet in Brussels for reviewing and updating the work carried out during the last 18 months. The meeting is being held on the premises of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Brussels.

The PRE-EST Board Meeting has started this morning at the CSIC Office in Brussels. A review and update of the work carried out during the last 18 months is taking place. The meeting is attending by PRE-EST partners. Progress of the different project Work Packages is being presenting and discussing. PRE-EST is a collaborative project funded by EU H2020 Programme under Grant Agreement 739500.

European Association of Solar Telescopes GA meeting

A regular EAST general assembly was held in Brussels on January 21, 2019 at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC; Rue du Trône 62) at 1 pm. Mariann Korsos represented Hungary.

New EAST Executive director was elected: Marco Stangalini.

The follwoing topics were discussed:

  • The vice-president asked to have the possibility of reporting on the German position with regard to EST at the end of the meeting.
  • The minutes of the last GA are approved without changes.
  • The president informed the assembly about his and the vice-president’s willingness to be reelected for 2019-2020.
  • Prof. Mats Carlsson and Prof. Oskar von der Lühe awere unanimously re-elected as president and vice-president, respectively, of EAST for 2019-2020.
  • Report on EAST activities: The executive director informed that a new repository containing all relevant documents and the 3 minutes of the meetings are available, and hosted on the Google Drive platform. The executive director also informed that this is hosted on an INAF Google business account and therefore no ownership is transferred to Google itself. Access to the cloud is restricted to EAST members and available only upon explicit request. The executive director also informed that, for practical reasons, the EAST mailing list was moved, together with all the contacts, to the new address east@inaf.it. After this, a discussion started on the possible relocation of the EAST website. It was suggested and agreed that the EAST website should remain a subsection of the web-portal, which aggregates in the same place all the information about EST and all its past and present related projects (e.g. SOLARNET, GREST, PRE-EST).
  • Membership requests were discussed.
  • Overview of SOLARNET II project was given.
  • Overview of GREST and PRE-EST projects and EST activities were given.

Researchers improve tools for predicting weather in space (Source: School of Mathematics and Statistics, SU)

A team of researchers has helped to improve space weather forecasts so that todays technological infrastructure can be better protected from unexpected interruptions.

Many technologies and industries – from radio, TV, mobile phone technologies, to GPS and other navigation services and power transmission systems, to service industries such as banking – rely on satellites and other essential space and terrestrial infrastructure.

But weather events in space, originating on the Sun and propagating towards our home planet, can cause problems that stop systems that the global economy relies on from working properly.

The PROGRESS project, co-ordinated by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenbürgen in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, was set up as a European/US collaboration to develop Europe-wide tools to forecast solar wind conditions close to the Earth and their effects within the magnetosphere.

It brought together researchers from the School of Mathematics and Statistics and the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering at the University of Sheffield, alongside collaborators from Warwick, Finland, Germany, the USA, Ukraine, France, Sweden and Germany.

Professor von Fay-Siebenbürgen, who is the deputy head of the University of Sheffield's Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre, said: "We have exploited our combined expertise to create a comprehensive set of forecasting tools, combining data-based modelling techniques with improvements to state of the art physics-based models."

The team created created a numerical magnetohydrodynamics-based model by coupling two individual models to enable an advanced forecast of solar wind parameters. "The first, AWSoM, analyses the magnetic field at the solar surface, using it to simulate the solar atmosphere out to 25 solar radii. From this point outwards, the second model, SWIFT, propagates these solar winds out to 1.5 million kilometres upstream of the Earth," Professor von Fay-Siebenbürgen explained.

He added: "The new models developed by the consortium are based on our improved understanding of the dynamics of the radiation belts. The results are important for the scientific community as they give novel insight into physical processes of plasmas in the near-Earth environment."

When these space weather events arrive at the Earth they can result in increased numbers of 'killer electrons' capable of damaging satellites. "Our new models for the evolution of fluxes of electrons at geostationary orbit, the location of large numbers of satellites, are a significant improvement on those that went before," explained Professor Michael Balikhin from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, who also played a key role in the project with colleagues Dr Simon Walker, Dr Richard Boynton and Dr Hua-Liang Wei.

UK Solar Mission Forum

UK solar missions forum: the future of missions, facilities and computing website. The purpose of this meeting (Royal Astronomical Society, London) was to look towards the future, and how the UK solar physics community to build on their world class heritage. The EST aspects were presented by Robertus.

The purpose of this meeting is to look towards the future, and how the UK solar physics community to build on our world class heritage. We particularly encourage student, and early career scientists along, as these missions take many years, and we hope that the future mission leaders will join us.The talks are available online.

EST Calendar 2019

Dear EST lovers, The new EST Calendar 2019 has arrived!

You can download it from our website HERE. You can upload the calendar to your personal social networks, tag us, and use the hashtag ESTCalendar2019. The subject of the calendars this year are the EST Science Targets. In the calendar we have tried to showcase the most interesting science cases that the teams working for EST are performing at the moment, and how EST will help to improve their results.

An observatory with one of the world’s foremost, state-of-the-art solar telescope may start operating soon on top of the water tower in Gyula. The instrument is going to play a central role in the modern, worldwide uniquely reliable prediction of space weather, thus contributing to decreasing the damages caused by solar eruptions.

Earlier, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) had operated an observatory on the top of the water tower, however, the facility was closed down a few years ago by MTA. As Deputy Mayor Norbert Alt told us, subsequently, Professor Robertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen turned to Mayor dr. Ernő Görgényi with the concept to place a solar telescope (back then still under development) on top of the approximately 45 metres high water tower. The capabilities of the location are excellent, since multiple rooms with similar aims had already been established in the building before.

Norbert Alt and és János Temesváry at one of the crucial sites of development. The city of Gyula has great prospects. Photo: Kiss Zoltán

Another participant in the project in representation of Gyula, János Temesváry explained that the Sun, as the basis and source of space weather, has significant social and economic impact on our daily lives. Various industries are influenced by space weather either directly (such as through the overcharging of electric cables, damages to communication and research spacecrafts, breakdowns in the operation of satellites) or indirectly (such as through the irregular functioning of the services sector, navigation and bank systems, and damages to oil and gas pipelines).

The solar telescope and the associated computer system could forecast solar flares sooner than it was possible before. This endeavour could evolve into a worldwide system, the first station of which could be Gyula. This initiative could therefore put the city on the map of international astronomical and scientific life and interest.

Norbert Alt added that the solar telescope has been developed in Italy, and the state-of-the-art instrument has been completed. In the meantime, two proposals have been submitted to aid the realisation of the related developments. One of these aims the modernisation of the observatory. The investment would mean structural reconstruction on the one hand, and energetic renewal on the other.

At the same time, another project is conducted with the coordination of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, too, which deals with the development of the interior of the observatory. This includes furniture, instruments, and anything the researchers working there will need.

Gallery: here

“Currently, we are at the end of the planning phase and at the start of preparing the investment,” emphasized Norbert Alt. There are connections to several higher education institutions, such as the University of Debrecen and the Eötvös Loránd University, which means that, once the investment is realised, there could be an influx of students and scientific researchers to Gyula.

The Deputy Mayor added that Gyula, as a centre of tourism, cannot afford not to look at the touristic benefits of such a development, too.

“We are investigating this possibility,” he added.

Thanks to this initiative, researchers from Italy and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have visited Gyula in the previous few months.

Solar eruptions could be predicted sooner. János Temesváry explained that solar activity and the upper atmosphere of Earth are connected through several compley physical processes, which together are referred to as space weather. The atmosphere of the Sun extends from the photosphere seen as its surface all the way to the environment of the Earth. Technologies of everyday use are especially exposed to the continuous stream of high-velocity particles originating from the Sun, which can take the form of the solar wind or solar eruptions. These can generate excess voltage in the electric network, and, as a worst-case scenario, endanger the power supply of entire countries. During the so-called Carrington-event in 1859, the wires of telegraph networks began to throw sparks, causing certain telegraph buildings to catch fire due to the event.

The planned solar telescope is different from similar existing instruments in that it has been supplied with four magneto-optical filters, which researchers can use to observe the layers of the solar corona. They trust that this will enable them to predict solar eruptions 12 to 24 hours sooner than it is currently possible.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The planned observatory on top of the water tower will investigate solar eruptions (source: Gyulai Hírlap)

The observatory may hold scientific as well as touristic significance for the city.

There is a plan to build an observatory investigating solar eruptions on top of the water tower, where another observatory had operated before the Hungarian Academy of Sciences closed it down. The instrument will have a special filter that enables researchers to predict solar eruptions several days earlier than it was possible before. We have talked about the details with Deputy Mayor Norbert Alt.

THe observatory will have a unique telescope. Photo: Gyulai Hírlap – M-P. J.

The Deputy Mayor has shared that Professor Róbert Erdélyi turned to Mayor Ernő Görgényi with the idea to revive the solar physics observatory that had been functioning in Gyula for several decades.

Norbert Alt explained that there is a plan to build a unique telescope on top of the water tower, which could play a determining role in scientific life. The instrument has a filter which enables scientists to predict upcoming solar eruptions. The filter helps to investigate the colour changes on the Sun, and this can serve to predict when and where solar eruptions will occur.

All of this is especially important because a solar eruption can cause billions of dollars’ worth of damages in satellites and other electronic devices, and it can even lead tot he breakdown of certain systems which may lead to global problems. This telescope can help researchers prevent such damages.

We have found out that the observatory was closed down by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the telescope was removed, but the facility – although it is not in a good state – is still there, untouched. Norbert Alt told us that a proposal has been submitted to further the energetic development of the observatory, and thanks to its favourable outcome, approximately 30 million forints can be spent on refurbishment. This means structural reconstruction on the one hand, and energetic renewal on the other hand.

Photo: Gyulai Hírlap – M-P. J.

At the same time, another project is conducted by the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation, which aims to improve the interior of the observatory. This includes furniture, instruments, and anything the researchers working there will need for their work.

The telescope has already been finished, and a viewing conducted in Italy by a delegation from Gyula. However, Róbert Erdélyi plans to establish a complete network with further instruments, so that observations may be conducted in several stations worldwide, 24 hours a day.

Norbert Alt emphasised that the construction of the telescope and the redevelopment of the observatory may have further benefits. The Gyula Observatory could become a defining institution and point of reference in science. Cooperation is underway with the University of Debrecen and Eötvös Loránd University. Furthermore, the opportunities for tourism are being examined.

In September, negotiations were conducted in Gyula, where the project was introduced to foreign partners. The Deputy Mayor added that everything depends ont eh success of the proposals, but probably, the telescope will arrive and take its final place one and a half years from now.

Sheffield Solar Catalogue (SSC) - A New Automated Solar Feature Recognition Facility

N. Gyenge, H. Yu (余海东 ), V. Vu, M. K. Griffiths and R. Erdélyi

Sheffield Solar Catalogue (SSC) is available from now on here

The Sheffield Solar Catalogue (SSC) project is a free and open-source software package for the analysis of solar data intents to establish a fully automated solar feature recognition environment from the raw images of solar observations to a user-friendly and science-ready data source. The underlying core program is able to provide a real-time comprehensive solar features data analysis environment, aimed to assist researchers within the field of solar physics and astronomy.

At this stage of development, SSC is suitable for generating sunspot data fully automatically, based on white light continuum and magnetogram observations by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite (Pesnell, W. D. (2015). Solar dynamics observatory (SDO) (pp. 179-196). Springer International Publishing.). Although, the project is currently focused on sunspot groups and sunspot identification, the database will be extended later to other solar features, such as solar pores, faculae, coronal holes, jets, spicules and other solar phenomena.

Machine Learning in Heliophysics, September 16-20, 2019, Amsterdam (NL) - 1st Announcement

From: Enrico Camporeale (e.camporeale at cwi.nl)

We are pleased to invite you to the conference ‘Machine Learning in Heliophysics’ to be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands from September 16-20, 2019.

The goal of this first ML-Helio conference is to leverage the advancements happening in disciplines such as machine learning, deep learning, statistical analysis, system identification, and information theory, in order to address long-standing questions and enable a higher scientific return on the wealth of available heliospheric data.

We aim at bringing together a cross-disciplinary research community: physicists in solar, heliospheric, magnetospheric, and aeronomy fields as well as computer and data scientists. ML-Helio will focus on the development of data science techniques needed to tackle fundamental problems in space weather forecasting, inverse estimation of physical parameters, automatic event identification, feature detection and tracking, times series analysis of dynamical systems, combination of physics-based model with machine learning techniques, surrogate models and uncertainty quantification.

The conference will consists of classic-style lectures, complemented by hands-on tutorials on Python tools and data resources available to the heliophysics machine learning community.

In order to help us organize a conference better tailored towards the needs of the communities, we encourage you to register your interest and submit suggestions on: here

On behalf of the SOC,
Enrico Camporeale

Happy birthday, HSPF!

Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation is founded on 14th of November, 2016. Wish you all the success in the solar physics world!


Dr Bernadett Belucz received a scholarship from the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) starting from September this year, and also works at Eötvös Loránd University from 1st September.

Bernadett arrived back home in July from the National Center for Atmospheric Research High Altitude Observatory (Boulder, Colorado). She was working with her former PhD supervisor, Dr Mausumi Dikpati, conducting research ont he shallow-water tachocline model and the widespread solar activity. During the post-doctoral research, they published an article with their colleagues, which is available at the following link. Naturally, the research will continue after her homecoming, too.

EMS 2018

The EMS Annual Meeting: European Conference for Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2018 was held in Corvinus University Budapest, Hungary, from 3 to 7 September 2018.

We contributed to chair a session on space weather forecasting (UP2.5 The interconnection between the sun, space weather and the atmosphere) and had strategic discussions with European partners on promoting EST and SAMNET.

For more information see here

BUKS 2018

BUKS workshops are organised since 2009 when research groups from Belgium, UK, and Spain (hence BUKS) took the initiative to have a series of open and informal topical meetings to bring together researchers with interests on theoretical, observational and numerical aspects of MHD waves and seismology of the solar atmosphere.

BUKS2018 Workshop on "Waves and Instabilities in the Solar Atmosphere: Confronting the Current State-of-the Art" took place in La Laguna, Tenerife (Spain) from 3 to 7 September 2018, organised by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).

The aim was to create a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas on recent results regarding observations, data analysis and theoretical/numerical modelling of waves, oscillations, associated instabilities and seismology of the solar atmosphere. Emphasis was given to the exploitation of present and future facilities, instruments and observational bands; the development and application of modern data analysis methods; and confrontation with state of the art modelling.

Scientific Organising Committee:

  • José Luis Ballester (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain)
  • Ineke De Moortel (University of St Andrews, UK)
  • Robertus Erdelyi (University of Sheffield, UK)
  • Mihalis Mathioudakis (Queen's University Belfast, UK)
  • Valery Nakariakov (University of Warwick, UK)
  • Tom Van Doorsselaere (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

A number of our HSPF colleagues, partners and international experts participated the meeting providing excellent impetus for future solar research.

For more information see here

First Stategic Meeting in Gyula

The First Gyula Strategic Meeting happened between 27-29th August, with the participation of mayor Dr. Ernő Görgényi, vice-mayor Norbert Alt, and the technical head of Gyula’s exhibition spaces, János Temesváry, on behalf of the local government of Gyula. It was a great honour that we could welcome to our circles Professor Yihua Yan from China (President of IAU Division E: Sun & Heliosphere; Director of Solar Physics Division & Director of CAS Key Laboratory of Solar Activity; National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences), as well as out italian colleagues, Roberto Speziali (INAF, Italy), Luciano Dal Sasso (Avalon Instruments, Italy), Vincenzo Mauriello (VM Technology and Arredo, Italy) and Alessandro Leonardi (Vice President at Unicredit Bank, Italy), and, last but not least, the Head of the Astronomy Department at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Professor Kristóf Petrovay. On behalf of HSPF, Professor Róbert Erdélyi (chair of the Advisory Board and founding member), Anett Elek (founding member), Dr Bernadett Belucz (Advisory Board member, chair of the Oversight Committee), and Marianna Brigitta Korsós (member of the Advisory Board) participated in the meeting.

The mayor welcomed all participants, and especially the Italian and Chinese colleagues at the meeting. He emphasised that they are committed tot he case for the Foundation and the Bay Zoltán Observatory in Gyula, as well as that, with the renovation of the Observatory, the infrastructural foundations will be secured. He expressed his joy over the fact that through the above-mentioned works, Gyula will become part of an international project. Financial resources are available both for the renovation of the Observatory, and for the acquisition of equipment; the telescope is ready, it is only waiting for the building to be finished; the experts are available; and the city is showing every willingness to bring this endeavour to fruition. We wish every success and good luck for working together!

Professor Kristóf Petrovay, the Head of the Astronomy Department at ELTE covered the history of solar physics in Hungary in his presentation, starting from the foundation of Eötvös Loránd University, and the establishment of the Faculty of Science, as well as the Department of Astronomy within this Faculty. He highlighted the main turning points of the creation of the Debrecen Heliophysical Observatory and the Gyula Observing Station, their interdependence, and their closure. Finally, he summarised how and why, as a consequence of these processes, the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation was called to life. We sincerely hope that every step in the future will serve as the starting point of a success story, thanks tot he cooperation of HSPF and the City of Gyula, and a laboratory agreement between ELTE and the Foundation.

The Chair of the Foundation, Professor Róbert Erdélyi, talked about why it is crucial to study space weather, flares, and CMEs. He talked in detail about the GYSAMM instrument, scheduled to start operation in the Bay Zoltán Observatory from next year; the plans of the Observatory; the plans of SAMM+; and about SAMMNet. Further discussion followed about the plans of the Foundation to acquire a mobile planetarium and a Lunt solar telescope, which would be especially helpful in outreach activities, bringing this vitally important field of science closer to the citizens.

Our colleague from China briefly presented the Chinese plans, as well as the possibilities and pillars for a serious future cooperation between the Foundation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. At the end of his talk, he gave his present to vice-mayor Norbert Alt, who, then, thanked the Italian and Chinese colleagues for their attendance with gifts from the City of Gyula. Finally, the three parties expressed their mutual hopes for the success of the cooperation.

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Balatonrendes Observatory from the 1930s

Dr Endre Vönöczky Schenk prepared this photograph of the Balatonrendes Astronomical Observatory in the 1930s. We have undertaken consultations with the relevant authorities, so that we can obtain permission to built the station in Balatonrendes.

DKIST CSP Broader Impact meeting, Bozeman, Montana

The DKIST Critical Science Plan Meeting focussed on Broader Impact took place on 18-20 June 2018 organised by Montana State University (Bozeman).

Here, further training was received how to prepare observing plans for DKIST. A number of Critical Science User Plan (CSP) cases were further developed, inc:

  • UC05 3D velocity field of spicules
  • UC13 Multiscale vorticity
  • UC40 Sausage waves
  • UC42 Surface and body MHD modes
  • UC45 Probing the paradigms of energy transfer by transverse MHD waves
  • UC46 Mode conversion
  • UC163 Investigation of chromospheric arch-filament systems
  • UC178 Propagation of Swirls
  • UC183 TAWs
  • UC189 Tether-Cutting Reconnection

A full list of the CSPs can be found here

We also had strategic discussions

  • on the broader scientific, technological and societal implications of DKIST coming alive very soon
  • of expanding SAMNET with another potential new partner from the USA, in particular, how the proposed new SAMNET technology of measuring the lower solar atmospheric magnetic field with SAMNET would aid DKIST.

EAST 7th Science Advisory Group

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 15 Jun 2018, following the extremely successful 1st EST Science Meeting, Naxos (Italy).

Discussions took place on:

  • Guideline to use the photon count tool
  • Guidelines for the SRD text and OP tables

Further information: here

EST Science Meeting in Giardini Naxos (Italy)

The EST Science Meeting was held on June 11-15 2018 at Giardini Naxos, in Sicily (Italy).

This EST Science Meeting aimed at gathering scientists who i) wished to present their most recent theoretical and observational research in the field; ii) highlighted the key science cases that will be addressed by the 4-metre class solar telescopes, and the synergies with both current and future ground-based and space-borne facilities; iii) presented the latest version of The Science Requirement Document (SRD). During the meeting there were also opportunities provided to contribute to the SRD and to discuss how and why the unique capabilities of EST will provide answers to several key science questions.

EST will be the heritage of the entire solar physics community and, for this reason, it is expected that the scientific community and in particular the EST Science Meeting participants, will contribute with science cases that will then be reflected in the SRD. The proposed Scientific Sessions are: The state-of-the-art of the EST project; Structure and evolution of magnetic flux; Wave coupling throughout solar atmosphere; Chromospheric dynamics and heating; Magnetised plasma dynamics and fundamental processes; The solar corona; Solar flares and eruptive events; Scattering physics and Hanle-Zeeman diagnostics.


  • L. Belluzzi (IRSOL, CH)
  • M. Carlsson (UiO,NO)
  • M. Collados Vera (IAC, ES)
  • J. Jurcak (CAS, CZ)
  • M. Mathioudakis (QUB, UK)
  • S. Matthews (MSSL, UK)
  • R. Erdelyi (U. of Sheffield, UK)
  • R. Schlichenmaier (Co-Chair, KIS, DE)
  • D. Utz (IGAM, AT)
  • Prof. Francesca Zuccarello (Università degli Studi di Catania, fzu@oact.inaf.it)

Further information: here

NSO/HAO, Boulder, Colorado

We were visiting key DKIST and potentially new SAMNET partners at National Solar Observatory (NSO) and High Altitude Observatory (HAO) in Boulder. Discussions took place on future joint projects with NSO colleagues (from solar dynamo to solar cycle forecasting/modelling).

AOGS 2018 Hawaii

AOGS 15th Annual Meeting, 3-8 June, 2018, Honolulu, Hawaii

Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) was established in 2003 to promote geosciences and its application for the benefit of humanity, specifically in Asia and Oceania and with an overarching approach to global issues.

The Asia Oceania region is particularly vulnerable to natural hazards, accounting for almost 80% human lives lost globally. AOGS is deeply involved in addressing hazard related issues through improving our understanding of the genesis of hazards through scientific, social and technical approaches.

AOGS holds annual conventions, this year in Hawaii, providing a unique opportunity of exchanging scientific knowledge and discussion to address important geo-scientific issues among academia, research institutions, and the public.

Recognizing the need of global collaboration, AOGS has developed good co-operation with other international geo-science societies and unions such as the European Geosciences Union (EGU), American Geophysical Union (AGU), International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), Japan Geo-science Union (JpGU), and Science Council of Asia (SCA).

A number of talks were delivered (invited review on solar-magnetoseismology (Prof. Robert Erdélyi); and two invited talks: one on dynamo (Dr Bernadett Belucz) and another on space weather forecasting (Marianna Korsos). We also disseminated the H2020 PROGRESS results, promoted DKIST, EST and SAMNET by highlighting the new science and technology opportunities.

Further strategic discussions took place with colleagues from IoA, Hawaii and CAS, China about emerging opportunities in order to develop instrumentation networking, with particular focus on flare and CME forecasting.

HAO/NSO, Boulder, Colorado

We were visiting key DKIST and SAMNET partners at High Altitude Observatory (HAO) and National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Boulder.

We delivered talks on SAMNET potentials on improving space weather forecasting and how the ultra-high resolution of DKIST (or EST) may have impact on understanding better the sources of solar eruptions. We were also discussing future joint projects with colleagues (from solar dynamo, solar cycle forecasting/modelling to wave observations).

California State University, LA, California

We have visited a key DKIST partner and potential new SAMNET consortium supporter at California State University (CSUN, Los Angeles).

The visit included delivering a talk on SAMNET potentials on improving space weather forecasting and how the ultra-high resolution of DKIST (or EST) may have impact on understanding better the sources of solar eruptions. We were also discussing future joint project with colleagues (from inversion to wave observations).

EST brochure

With the strong support from the Project Office and different volunteers from EST-Comm, we have finally translated the EST leaflets to almost all the languages spoken in the EST associated countries. Nowadays, the leaflets are available in Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Slovak and Spanish. Some of them have already been printed and distributed to some institutes. For Hungarian leaflets please contact Dr Bernadett Belucz (ELTE, HSPF). The printing and distribution of the remaining ones will be done during the next weeks. Nevertheless, leaflets can be found in the EST website (low resolution).

Versions in various languages

Hungarian brochure: European Solar Telescope, az európai naptávcső- A napaktivitás megértésének a szolgálatában

Isradynamics 2018 (Ein Bokek, Israel)

Isradynamics 2018 Dynamical Processes in Space Plasmas (Israel, 22-29 April 2018)

The meeting brings together scientists working in solar physics, space physics, plasma physics, and astrophysics, in theory, simulations, and experiment. The objective is to report and discuss recent progress in our understanding of the fundamental processes in solar, space, and astrophysical plasmas, in view of heliospheric in-situ and remote sensing measurements (Van Allen Probe, THEMIS, Cluster, STEREO, SDO, Messenger, Cassini, Venus-Express, MMS, Artemis, WIND) and remote sensing astrophysical observations (Chandra, XMM-Newton, SWIFT, Fermi).

Here the results of the EU H2020-funded PROGRESS were promoted in a talk; latest progress on solar-magneto-seismology was disseminated as an invited talk, and strategic discussion took place to further develop space weather forecasting by applying machine learning and AI techniques.

More details

Solar Orbiter SPICE Science meeting

The SPICE/Solar Orbiter consortium has started to work actively on the definition of the on-board observation programs. This is a science meeting dedicated to this goal, organised on April 19-20 in Paris (Observatoire de Paris, Salle du Conseil).

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter satellite is set for launch by NASA in 2020 to study the Sun’s heliosphere and observe it in unprecedented detail in an attempt to unmask the secrets of the solar wind.

In 2020, the Solar Orbiter satellite will depart Earth atop an Atlas V launcher and approach the Sun to within 62 solar radii or 42 million km, closer than any spacecraft has ever been before. From this vantage point, it will be ideally positioned to observe our star at unprecedented resolution (70 km/pixel) and analyse its heliosphere in fine detail. Solar Orbiter will also acquire imagery and data from the Sun’s polar regions and on the side not visible from Earth. The main aim of these measurements will be to identify the underlying processes driving the solar wind, the stream of particles continuously escaping the Sun.

More details

Preparatory Phase (PRE-EST) annual meeting in Belfast, UK

April 18 2018, Belfast (UK) - The annual EST Board Meeting, which gathers the main researchers and managers of the PRE-EST project, has taken place today in Belfast (UK). This project aims to take the necessary steps towards the construction of the European Solar Telescope. During this meeting the board has addressed fundamental issues for the success of the project. The coordinators of the various working packages designed to build this big infrastructure have reported the current status of strategic areas such as the financial schemes, the project management, or the communication and outreach actions. The EST board also had a discussion about the possible legal figures to manage an infrastructure of the European Solar Telescope during its preparatory and construction phases.

In more detail: Based on its excellence and maturity, EST became on March 2016 part of the ESFRI Projects list as a strategic facility for the European Community. This fact led to a subsequent speed-up of the project towards its current Preparatory Phase.

During this meeting, the EST Board addressed fundamental issues for the success of the project. Progress made on strategic and technical aspects was presented, and the required analysis of the future governance structure and the financial status of the project was carried out.

A key point of the meeting was the discussion on the future legal figure for EST. After a detailed analysis and a successive discussion of the different alternatives, the Board decided unanimously that the most appropriate legal figure for the project is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) located in Spain.

EST partners have devoted an important effort during the last years to explore possible legal frameworks and related governance schemes in order to provide the means for the agencies to jointly establish, construct and operate EST as a new research infrastructure. Following a thorough comparison, the present main EST governing body, the EST Board, agrees that the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) is the most appropriate structure, providing, among other advantages, the adequate framework for trans-national cooperation among partners as well as the desired sustainability for the project lifetime.

Experience shows that the ERIC legal figure implies a wider political visibility, also paving the way with key European funding agencies, policy and other decision makers. ERIC privileges/exemptions are also relevant.

The negotiation and approval procedure for setting up an ERIC is carried out at national level. As a result of this PRE-EST Board decision, the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Industry will initiate the ERIC negotiations process with the corresponding governmental authorities of the EST partners, e.g. with NKFIH in Hungary.

6th EAST SAG meeting in Belfast, UK

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 16-17 Apr 2018, in Belfast.

One of the main tasks of SAG is to refine the EST concept, building on the existing EST Conceptual Design the prioritised scientific goals and technical updates. To that end, the current needs of the solar community are being assessed, taking into account the technologies likely to be affordable over the next decade. This meeting involved the participation of researchers from all the institutions participating in the PRE-EST project, where HSPF had its representative there too.

Discussions took place on:

  • Summary of SRD status
  • Photon flux app tutorial; planned light distribution
  • Overlap of science cases: Identify and redistribute
  • EST Uniqueness
  • Splinter sessions: Work out sciences cases
  • Nasmyth focus science
  • Update on preparation of 1st EST Science meeting in Naxos
  • Citizen science: What can be done?

More info here.

Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, NI/UK

We have visited a key DKIST, EST and SAMNET consortium partner at Queen’s University Belfast. Discussion on the implementation of new emerging technologies enabling leaps in measuring solar vector magnetic fields was conducted. The visit included delivering a talk on SAMNET potentials on improving space weather forecasting and how such small-aperture ground-based facilities are linked efficiently in finding targets with ultra-high resolution instrumentation such as DKIST or EST.

Armagh Observatory, Armagh, NI/UK

We visited a key EST and SAMNET consortium supporter at Armagh Observatory. The visit included delivering a talk on SAMNET potentials on improving space weather forecasting and how the ultra-high resolution of DKIST or EST can have impact on understanding better the sources of solar eruptions.

DKIST Critical Science Plan Meeting (Newcastle)

The DKIST Critical Science Plan Meeting took place on 9-10 April 2018 Organised by Northumbria University (Newcastle). Here, additional training was received how to prepare observing plans for DKIST. A number of Critical Science User Plan (CSP) cases were developed, including:

  • UC05 3D velocity field of spicules
  • UC46 Mode conversion
  • UC183 TAWs

A full list of the CSPs can be found here.

We also had strategic discussions of expanding SAMNET with potential new partners, where new technologies of measuring the lower solar atmospheric magnetic field were addressed thanks to these novel concepts being developed by colleagues at IoA, Hawaii.

European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS 2018)

Annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) and the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) (Arena & Convention Centre (ACC),Liverpool, United Kingdom).

The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS, formerly JENAM) is the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS). With more than 25 years of tradition, it has imposed itself as the largest conference for European astronomy. In addition to plenary sessions and the award of prestigious prizes, the conference hosts many symposia held in parallel, as well as special sessions and meetings.

The EAS together with one of its affiliated societies, organises the annual EWASS conference to enhance its links with national communities, to broaden connections between individual members and to promote European networks.

The EAS considers its annual EWASS meetings to be a privileged occasion for free and frank interchange of scientific ideas, as well as for the nurturing and creation of professional and social contacts.

Website: here.

Noémi Zsámberger participated at EWASS 2018.

Rome Dal Sasso’s meeting

Visiting our key SAMNET consortium partner, Dal Sasso’s and Avalon Instruments (Aprilia, Rome) took place on 27th-28th March 2018 to discuss technical details and calibration issues of the SAMM.

EAST 5th SAG meeting (via zoom)

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 26th March 2018, via zoom.

Discussions took place on:
  • Update on Science Requirement Document
  • Prepare SAG meeting in Belfast
  • Preparation for 1st EST Science meeting in Naxos in June
  • EST uniqueness

Science Show in the House of Commons

Some of the work we do in collaboration with Dr Jiajia Liu and colleagues have been selected to be presented at the House of Commons on Monday 12th March in the Physical Sciences (Physics) Session from 12 noon – 2.45pm in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House.

UK parliament

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the Sun could carry energy equivalent to that released by 1 TRILLION nuclear bombs. They can cause severe socio-economic damage by affecting the operation and working of high-tech facilities like spacecraft, threatening the health of astronauts, causing disruption in functioning of modern communication systems (including radio, TV and mobile signals), navigation systems, and affecting the working of pipelines and power grids. The threat-assessment report by the Lloyd’s insurance company [2013] concluded that extreme CME events would cause a loss of $2.6 trillion. Therefore, fast and accurate prediction of CME arrival time is vital to minimize the losses CMEs may cost when hitting the Earth. Our work focuses on forecasting the arrival time at Earth of these fatal events, via combining the unprecedented Machine Learning techniques, which are in essential similar with the technique behind the famous Google Alpha Go, with the intricate physics behind these events. This interdisciplinary study gives a largely improved prediction error of only 6 hours than before, giving much more accurate impact time of these extreme events, and more than enough warning time for the government, military and industries to take actions to minimize corresponding socio-economic losses.

The rebirth of the Gyula Bay Zoltán Solar Observatory (GSO)

Upon completion of the current renovation works, GSO’s infrastructure will be able to provide high-level services for scientific research activities.

In the 1960s, a lookout was built above the water holding volume of the the Gyula Water Tower, located in the area of Göndöcs Garden. Later on, as the lookout area was not in use, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences transformed it into an observatory to carry out solar physics investigations. The repurposing plans were drawn up by 1971, which is also when the structure of the telescope was constructed on top of the lookout. Unfortunately, in 2015, following a proposal by the Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, and going against international expert opinions, the Hungarian Academy for Sciences terminated the until then successful solar physics research conducted in the Gyula Observatory. The telescope was retired. It is here, in this part of the building, which had from the start been intended for research purposes, where HSPF, in a joint effort with the local government of Gyula, aims to revive solar physics investigations connected to space weather, which have a respectable tradition in Gyula, but are now also integrated into the bloodstream of the international scientific community.

One of the main scientific activities of the Bay Zoltán Solar Physics Observatory in Gyula (GSO), under the aegis of HSPF (http://hspf.eu), is constructing and evaluating synoptic images of the Sun. Observations are planned to be carried out using the Solar Activity Monitor (SAMM), which is a solar telescope with a double optical axis, and building on the technology of magneto-optical filtering. SAMM has been constructed and is being expanded in the framework of a large international cooperation between governments, universities, and research councils of various EU-countries.

The planned scientific observations can be performed in two different modes: with manual or automatic control. Routine synoptic and object-specific observations will be possible in both modes of operation. Determining the balance between different observational modes is the task of the Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) overseeing the operation of the telescope, which belongs under the leadership of the Foundation. The automatic mode allows a much wider segment of the scientific community to carry our research using the instrument. Basic processing of the data happens locally, then we make the so-called ‘data calibrated for scientific analysis’ available online.

EAST 4th SAG meeting (via zoom)

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 29 Jan 2018, via zoom.

Discussions took place on:
  • Science Requirement Document
  • Citizen Science Plan
  • EST uniqueness

RAS Discussion Meeting (RAS, London)

The RAS Discussion Meeting on “Wave-based heating mechanisms in the solar atmosphere” took place on 12 Jan 2018 at the Royal Astronomical Society’s Burlington House, Piccadilly (London).

Magnetohydrodynamic waves permeate the solar atmosphere but despite being regularly observed and analysed in great detail, their role in the energy transport through the solar atmosphere and in heating the solar corona remains unclear. This is largely due to the complexity and dynamism of the solar atmosphere where the combination of gravitational stratification, magnetic field expansion and local density inhomogeneities leads to complicated coupling and interactions between different layers of the solar atmosphere. Various modelling techniques, including numerical simulations and forward modelling, allow us to tackle this complexity and investigate the various wave processes. Constraints on the energy budget, identification of the dissipation mechanisms and determination of the spatial and temporal scales of the energy deposition and the observational signatures can thus be obtained. In this RAS Specialist Discussion meeting, the aim was to bring together experts in numerical modelling, observational detection and theoretical analysis of wave-based heating mechanism, in order to shed light on the role of MHD waves in coronal heating. Focus was in particular on recent advancements in this field due to the use of increasingly complex numerical experiments.

Website: here

IIA and Kodaikanal Winter School, India

The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has initiated various programmes with the aim of motivating students from colleges and universities across the country for research in Astronomy & Astrophysics. In this spirit, IIA organizes summer and winter schools every year, wherein students are exposed to research environment/career. As part of this on-going activity, IIA conducts an annual winter school on Solar Physics at the Kodaikanal Observatory in the month of January. In 2018, the School was organised by an excellent team, led by HSPF’s international expert, Dr Piyalu Chatterjee. There, Prof Robertus Erdelyi will give a number of lectures on “Internal structure of the Sun” and “Waves in solar atmosphere”

The School’s website (as of writing) is: here

EAST calendar 2018

1.000 promotional calendars about EST have been designed and produced. The calendar of this year tries to honour the existing European solar telescopes. The selection of the telescopes has been made taking into account the variety of countries/institutions participating in PRE-EST, and trying that most of them are represented in some way.

Calendar 2018

EAST 3rd SAG meeting (via zoom)

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 15 Dec 2017, via zoom.

Discussions took place on:
  • New members were introduced and accepted
  • EST uniqueness
  • SAG Subgroup structure: SG2 was revised and re-named "Wave coupling throughout the atmosphere”
  • UV in Nasmyth instrument

EAST 2nd SAG meeting in Freiburg, Germany

The Science Advisory Group (SAG) of EAST met on 24 Nov 2017, in Freiburg, following the EAST GA.

One of the main tasks of SAG is to continuously monitor and refine the EST concept, building on the existing EST Conceptual Design, the prioritised scientific goals, and technical updates. To that end, the developing needs of the solar community are being regularly assessed, taking into account the emerging new technologies likely to be affordable and available over the next decade. This meeting involved the participation of researchers from all the institutions participating in the PRE-EST project, where HSPF had its own representative there too.

Discussions took place on:
  • Nasmyth instrument, a near UV kit
  • IFUs: For EST we plan with IFUs, i.e., Integral Field Units
  • EST uniqueness
  • Expansion of SAG membership
  • SAG Subgroup structure

General Assembly of EAST, Freiburg, Germany

The current members of EAST (voting members as defined in Sec. 8 of Bylaws) approved the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation (HSPF) as the new voting member for Hungary.

The president, Mats Carlsson, read the letter in which Dr. Laszlo Kiss terminates the membership of Konkoly Observatory in EAST. The GA expressed gratitude for the support from the Konkoly Observatory and the Debrecen Heliophysical Observatory through the years; not the least through the contributions from the past representatives Tünde Baranyi and András Ludmány. HSPF was unanimously approved as the new voting member for Hungary. Robertus Erdelyi represents HSPF at the annual GAs of EAST.

Approval of EST Science Advisory Group (SAG) to update the EST Science Requirements.

The chair of the EST SAG (Rolf Schlichenmaier) presented the list of members of the newly formed SAG. During the discussion, gender balance and regional balance issues were raised, as well as a question of greater emphasis on coronal science. The SAG chair was asked to consider the inclusion of the following persons to the SAG: Manuela Temmer, Elena Khomenko, Sarah Matthews, Peter Gömöry, Sanja Danilovic. With these recommendations, the GA approved the EST SAG as it was proposed by its chair. The SAG chair invited the people listed to become members. Except for Manuela Temmer, all these candidates were accepted to be members of the EST SAG.

EST: status and preparatory phase issues (Presentations were made by Manolo Collados and Bob Bentley)

  1. Legal structure: Presentation by Bob Bentley
  2. Collaboration Research Agreement for Preparatory Phase (Manolo)
  3. Roadmaps
  4. EST site: Dedicated work group will be formed for decision in 2019.
  5. Project office
  6. Industrial collaboration

EAST Members

1. IGAM Institutsbereich Geophysik, Astrophysik und Meteorologie der Univ. Graz Austria
2. ROB Observatoire Royal de Belgique Belgium
3. HVO Hvar Observatory Croatia
4. AIASCR Astronomical Institute AS CR, v.v.i. Czech Republic
6. KIS Stiftung Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik (voting member of Germany) Germany
MPS Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung Germany
AIP Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam Germany
7. UCL-MSSL University College London - MSSL Great Britain
8. IAASARS National Observatory of Athens Greece
9. HSPF Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation Hungary
10. INAF Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica Italy
UniCT University of Catania (voting member of Italy) Italy
UoRTV University of Rome Tor Vergata Italy
UCal University of Calabria Italy
11. DOT Foundation Dutch Open Telescope Netherlands
12. ITA Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics Norway
13. IA UWr Astronomical Institute of the Wroclaw University Poland
14. AISAS Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences Slovakia
15. IAC Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (voting member of Spain) Spain
IAA Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía Spain
16. SU The Institute for Solar Physics Sweden
17. IRSOL Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno Switzerland

EAST representation of Hungary - HSPF!

Professor Robertus Erdélyi and the HSPF were invited to represent Hungary in the EST (European Solar Telescope) project.

An unprecedented and prominent scientific project has begun in Europe: the European Solar Telescope (EST) project, which is highlighted in and proposed for implementation by the ESFRI 2016 Roadmap. EST is supported by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST), which currently incorporates 23 research institutes from 17 countries in Europe. The aim of this cooperation is to provide European solar physicists with access to a world-class, high-resolution, large ground-based telescope. Pursuing this aim, EAST began to develop and build and will continue to operate in the future the new generation, large diameter European Solar Telescope (EST) in the Canary Islands.

As the result of a vote held with the participation of Hungarian solar physicists and scientists of interface fields, Professor Robertus Erdélyi and the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation have been asked to represent Hungary in this monumental project. This proposal was accepted at the EAST annual meeting. As a result, Professor Robertus Erdélyi will regularly attend and represent Hungary in the EAST GA and other related meetings; will regularly inform the interested Hungarian professional community about current developments; will work in cooperation with EAST's other national colleagues and observers to promote the success of EAST-supported projects; as well as carry out effective lobbying for the recognition of EAST projects in this country. Thank you for the help and support of all those colleagues who have been involved in the provess of electing our representative!

About EAST here

Congratulations, Bernadett!

Dr Bernadett Belucz received a postdoctoral position at the High Altitude Observatory (HAO) of the National Center for Atmospheric research (NCAR), located in Boulder, Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Bernadett will travel to the USA on the 3rd of January. This is the third time that Bernadett visits the HAO. This time she will work again with Dr Mausumi Dikpati, her earlier PhD co-supervisor. (Staff of HAO: Dr Mausumi Dikpati)

More info about HAO, here: NCAR HAO.

Bernadett's research will be focused on active longitudes, the shallow-water tachocline model, solar season simulations, and SDO/HMI and various ground-based sunspot data will be used to estimate the model parameters.

From left to right: (1) The Center Green 1, home of NCAR's High Altitude Observatory. (2) Bernadett is at Rocky Mountain National Park in 2013 during her first visit. (3) View of the Flatirons from Valmont Bike Park. (4) The Boulder County Courthouse

EST Workshop Bairisch Koelldorf

The European Solar Telescope, EST, is now in its preparatory phase after receiving funding from H2020 in the form of the PRE-EST project.

This workshop was dedicated to discuss updates and progressing made on public outreach, contacts with potential stakeholders and financing organizations in the region of central Europe. The participants also discussed possible collaboration and relevant science cases. Synergy aspects were also addressed, e.g. in relation to SAMNET (Solar Activity Monitor NETwork) which is a joint collaborative effort lead by e.g. the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation (HSPF), Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC), U. of Sheffield, UK, Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF)/Rome Observatory (Italy), Dal Sasso srl (Italy), U's. Tor Vergata Rome and l’Aquila (Italy), Coimbra University (Portugal), U. of Debrecen (Hungary), SAS (France).

First European presentation of the European Solar Telescope in Rome

Today, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome has hosted the first European presentation of the European Solar Telescope (EST) in the frame of the preparatory phase for its construction. This infrastructure, which will be installed in the Canary Islands - Spain, will be the largest European telescope to observe the sun. The construction is expected to start in 2021, and first light is planned for 2027. The project is included in the Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) since 2016 and involves 21 scientific and industrial institutions from 15 different European countries.

From left to right: Daniele Gallieni (A.D.S. international), Manolo Collados (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias), Fabio Manni (SRS Engineering), Francesca Zuccarello (Università di Catania), Ilaria Ermolli (Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica), Francesco Berrilli (Università di Roma Tor Vergata) and Salvo Gugliemino (Università di Catania)

European astronomers have studied the sun for centuries. Starting with Galileo Galilei, many solar physicists have helped unravel its secrets with the most advanced instrumentation at their disposal. Thanks to those efforts we now know the structure and composition of our star. However, some important questions remain unanswered. Among them is the role played by solar magnetic fields, which are thought to be responsible for the most energetic processes happening in the solar atmosphere. To address these questions, a next-generation telescope is needed.

Artist's impression of the future European Solar Telescope

EST will have a 4-meter primary mirror and an advanced adaptive optics system - a technology designed to reduce the image distortions caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. Thus, EST will be able to distinguish structures on the solar surface as small as 30 kilometers. Thanks to its large mirror, EST will also excel in delivering accurate measurements of solar magnetic fields, surpassing by far the capabilities of any existing solar telescope. The main goal of EST is to investigate the structure, dynamics, and energetics of the lower solar atmosphere, where magnetic fields continually interact with the plasma and magnetic energy is sometimes released in powerful explosions.

The event at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei is a presentation at European level of a project set to be the cornerstone of European solar physics in the coming decades. The event has involved the participation of researchers from all the Italian institutions participating in EST and representatives from the Italian industry. Manolo Collados (EST project coordinator) has declared that “EST will combine the best of present solar telescopes and will largely improve their performances”.

EST is promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST), which includes around 500 researchers from 15 European countries.

Az EST-t a European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST) támogatja, amely mintegy 1500 európai kutatót foglal magában.

More information: www.est-east.eu


Dr. Manuel Collados (EST Coordinator, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) mcv[at]iac.es

Dr. Luis Bellot (EST Communication Office Coordinator, Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía) lbellot[at]iaa.es

Dr. Manuel González (EST Communication Officer, Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía) manuelg[at]iaa.es

Our mysterious Sun: magnetic coupling between solar interior and atmosphere 25-29 September 2017, Tbilisi, Georgia

Our mysterious Sun: magnetic coupling between solar interior and atmosphere conference was held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

A fantastic conference on addressing the avalanche of recent high resolution observations and numerical simulations that clearly evidence the magnetic coupling of the solar interior and different layers of the atmosphere are has been held in Tbilisi. The main issue is to understand the underlying complex processes of energy transport and dissipation. Latest updates and progress on upcoming solar ground- (DKIST, EST) and space missions (e.g., Solar Probe, Solar Orbiter) were also discussed. More info at: http://solar-conference.iliauni.edu.ge A large number of theoreticians and observers, both experienced and young scientists have attended this very successful meeting (see photo below):

Largest solar flare in 12 years

Research team lead by a Hungarian scientist detected the eighth largest solar flare since modern records began – observed in unprecedented detail with the Swedish Solar Telescope in La Palma

The eighth largest solar flare since modern records began – and the largest solar flare in more than 12 years – has been observed in fantastic details by a team of researchers, where one team was led by a Hungarian scientist (Prof R. Erdelyi - Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC), University of Sheffield, UK; Dept of Astronomy, Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary, also President Curator of the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation).

The huge burst of electromagnetic radiation, occurred unexpectedly on Wednesday 6 September 2017. Associated with large ejections of plasma material from the Sun, these massive burts of plasma with speeds often tens of thousands of km/s, called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), can occasionally penetrate the Earth’s protective atmosphere and damage infrastructure (high-power electric grid system, telecommunication or GPS systems, retc.) and affect our daily life.

The flare was one of three X-category flares – the most powerful category of all flares – observed over a 48-hour period. These large solar bursts have energies comparable to one billion hydrogen bombs and can drive plasma away from the solar surface at speeds up to 2000 km/s when they form CMEs. All these burst events originate from concentrated but very complex and dynamic magnetic features seen as Active Regions at the solar surface:

These powerful events can lead to disruptions of satellite and GPS signals, as well as spectacular Aurorae through their interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere. In summary, these events are referred to as Space Weather, one of the hottest topics of modern space physics.

The largest X-class flare occurred at 13:00 GMT and was measured to have an energy level of X9.3 (where X9 is nine times more powerful than X1):

A team of scientists, including the University of Sheffield, Queen's University, Belfast, supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK), observed these historic events in extremely high detail using the Swedish Solar Telescope in La Palma.

One of the most difficult aspects of flare observations using ground-based telescopes is the short time-scales over which flares evolve. X-class flares can form and reach their peak intensities in little over five minutes, meaning observers, who only see a small part of the Sun at any one moment, must act fast to ensure they catch the crucial opening moments of the flares' evolution.

Thanks to, for example, the fantastic EU Erasmus Programme, one of the observers at the telescope was Dr. Chris Nelson from the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC), which is led by a Hungarian scientist, Professor Robertus Erdelyi, from the University’s School of Mathematics and Statistics, and also affiliated with the Department of Astronomy, Eotvos University (Budapest, Hungary) as a regular research visitor and lecturer. Dr Nelson said “It’s very unusual to observe the opening minutes of a flares life. We can only observe about 1/250th of the solar surface at any one time using the Swedish Solar Telescope, so to be in the right place at the right time requires a lot of luck. To observe the rise phases of three X-classes over two days is just unheard of!”

Dr. Aaron Reid, a research fellow from the Astrophysics Research Centre led by Prof Mihalis Mathioudakis, Queen’s University, Belfast, added “The Sun is currently in what we call solar minimum. The number of Active Regions, where flares occur, is low, so to have two X-class flares so close together is very surprising. Hopefully these observations can tell us how and why these flares formed so we can better predict them in the future.”

Professor Mathioudakis added: “Solar flares are the most energetic events in our Solar System and can have a major impact on Earth. The dedication and perseverance of our early-career scientists who planned and executed these observations led to the capture of these unique events.”

Using the data collected during this observation, researchers will now be able to probe the conditions in the solar atmosphere as these powerful events are formed, allowing more accurate predictions about when and where X-class flares might occur in the future.

This information can be channelled into the multi-billion pound Space Weather industry to better protect satellites from the dangers of the sun.

Professor Robertus Erdelyi added: “It is of great pride to see how the next-generation young and talented scientists can make true discoveries.

These observations are very difficult to conduct and interpret in terms of physics. SP2RC has a number of such young Hungarian researchers who all contribute to the understanding of the subtle and often intriguing physical processes determining Space Weather.”

15th European Solar Physics Meeting

The 15th European Solar Physics Meeting (ESPM-15) has been held at Budapest’s Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary from the 4th to the 8th of September. Around 230 scientists have participated in the meeting from around the world.

The 15th Conference of the ESPM Series was very successfully implemented in the premises of Budapest’s Eötvös-Loránd University in early September 2017. The triennial meeting series brings together the European and a significant part of the international solar physics community for a week of intense interaction and debate that redefines and often reshapes the field’s state-of-the-art. ESPMs are assigned to a local organizer via a highly competitive bidding process and are coordinated by the European Solar Physics Division (ESPD), a joint Division of the European Physical Society and the European Astronomical Society. The ESPD puts great emphasis on the geographical distribution of ESPMs, having assigned their venues in twelve (12) different European countries so far.

Budapest’s ESPM-15 was expertly organized and hosted by diverse scientific and local organizing committees. A total of 230 participants from 33 different countries in Europe and other parts of the world attended and participated in the deliberations. For the first time in ESPD history, ESPM-15 featured three (3) prizes foreseen in its statutes and bylaws, namely, a Senior Prize, an Early Career Prize and a PhD Thesis prize. As several of the meetings preceding it, it was also declared an EPS Europhysics Conference, featuring an EPS-sponsored Student Poster Prize, as well. The ESPD areas of activity, interaction and international cooperation were highlighted in the conference’s standard business meeting while the Prize ceremony was staged aboard a Danube river cruise ship, during a delightful and memorable conference dinner.

Visit in Gyula

Colleagues from the Foundation, e.g. Prof. Dr. Róbert Erdélyi, Dr. Bernadett Belucz, Anett Elek and Marianna Korsós visited the beautiful spa-city of Gyula, South-East Hungary in order to further negotiate logistical aspects of the Bay Zoltán Solar Observatory, also often referred to as the Gyula Solar Observatory (GSO) with the Local Government.

The group in the Bay Zoltán Observatory

GSO host our robotic telescope SAMM (Solar Activity MOF Monitor, based on a revolutionary magneto-optical filter (MOF) technology) routinely providing scientific data for space weather monitoring. They had a number of successful meetings with the officers of the Municipality of Gyula, discussed, among other topics, opportunities and future plans, addressed some engineering and energetic optimisation, funding and support, milestones, and project reporting in detail. After a busy day, we had a nice dinner in one of Gyula's many great restaurants and enjoyed the exceptional hospitality received.

In spite of the tight schedule of the visit, we had the opportunity to visit the Almásy Castle of the city, thanks to our wonderful hosts. The castle is beautifully renovated both from outside and inside, and is a highly recommended true visitor center. We had been given an inside view of the contemporary lives of people from simple servants to the elegance of Countesses. The rooms are well-designed, their interactive parts are highly recommended for a trial. The time spent there in the castle went almost unnoticed as it was so fantastic.

Gyula Almásy Castle visitor center

During the day we also had the opportunity to visit the Radio Museum and their rather unique radio history exhibition (http://www.gyulavaros.hu/music/radiomuzeum-es-radiotorteneti-kiallitas). This is an extremely interesting spectatcle displaying an odd collection is unmatched in the whole world.

From left to right: (1) First moments in Observatory. (2) View of Gyula. (3) The next generation of solar physicists, Bernadett with her dauther, Hajnal. (4) Group photo: János Temesváry (left), Norbert Alt, Dr. Bernadett Belucz, Anett Elek, Marianna Korsós and Prof. Dr. Róbert Erdélyi (right)

The hospitality received is simply unforgettable and we all thank our hosts for their efforts, support and acknowledge the staff of Gyula Municipality.

The Statutory Meeting in Budapest

The Foundation's Statutory Meeting (SM001) was held in Budapest on the 30th of July with Prof Dr. Róbert Erdélyi, Dr. Bernadett Belucz, Noémi Zsámberger, Anett Elek and Marianna Korsós, as representatives. Others, who could not make it, conveyed their apologies for the records.

Prof Dr. Erdélyi welcomed the participants, then summarised the achievements, and the present status of the projects related to HSPF. He provided a brief overview of the HSPF project conducted in Gyula, namely, the status of the new observing station called Bay Zoltán Solar Observatory (GSO). He further gave a report on the recently acquired property in the Northern Balaton region, which is going to become the location of the planned second observing station of the Foundation in the Káli Basin, on the Northern bank of lake Balaton. Dr. Bernadett Belucz introduced the new website and logo of HSPF. Other strategic issues were also discussed (fundraising, PRE-EST and ISWI representation, accounting, etc.).

Congratulations, Mariann!

Marianna Korsos has been awarded the 2nd prize for her new and ground-breaking results at the international Space Weather conference (IAUS335) of the International Astronomical Union, Exeter (UK) on 20th of July 2017.

Among the five awardees she was the only European, as well as the only female researcher receiving this prestigious recognition. Marianna works on the pre-flare dynamic evolution of flaring active regions and forecasting these often harmful events taking place in the solar atmosphere but affecting Space Weather.

She said: “I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition that is ways beyond my dreams. This prize will now give me further impetus to tackle the very difficult problems of forecasting the pre-cursors that drive Space Weather: the evolution of magnetic fields at the surface of the star closest to us, the Sun."

Visit in Rome

Representatives of the Foundation (Anett Elek, Prof Dr. Erdélyi and Marianna Korsós) and the Deputy Mayor of Gyula (Mr Norbert Alt) and his staff visited Avalon Instruments in Rome, who are a key engine behind manufacturing the SAMM telescope and its components. The visit was extremely successful and the photos can be found on the website.

PRE-EST kick-off meeting in Madrid

The PRE-EST (Preparatory Phase for the European Solar Telescope) Kick-off meeting has been held with 37 participants of the PRE-EST Project at Tryp Alameda Aeropuerto Hotel in Madrid, Spain. From Hungary, Dr. Bernadett Belucz attended the meeting, as the PRE-EST Hungarian Communication Officer.

Manuel Collados welcomed the attendees of the PRE-EST Project and informed them about the agenda. He gave an overview of recent achievements, and the present status of the projects related to EST. He emphasised that the main goal of the PRE-EST project is to provide the EST international consortium and the national agencies with a detailed plan for the implementation of European Solar Telescope. He also gave a brief overview of the six work packages of the project: Management, Governance, Legal structure, Financial issues, Strategic actions, and Technical Works leading to final design.

Anselmo Sosa (IAC, ad-interim Project Manager) took the floor and gave detailed information about project structure, governance, funding, milestones, monitoring and project reporting, as well as internal/external communication.

Sarah Matthews presented the overarching aim of the WP30 (EST Legal Structure), focused on studying the possible legal frameworks for EST and determining the most appropriate one.

Sebastián Jiménez (GREST Technology Manager) summarized the main conclusions achieved for deliverable D7.4 of GREST project, concerning the study of the possible legal entity options for the EST construction and operation phases as well as its governance bodies.

Anselmo Sosa summarized the importance of the work to be done under WP40 (Financial Schemes of EST and Strategic Actions) to deliver a feasible business & construction plan, based on the attainable political and financial support for the present and subsequent phases of the project.

Luis Bellot from IAA (Spain), the person primarily responsible for PRE-EST WP50 (Strategic actions to reinforce EST visibility and transnational engagement), summarized the main activities proposed for this work package, which includes the PRE-EST Communication, Education and Public Outreach Strategic Plan.

Juan Cozar (IAC) presented the specific planned work of WP60 (Technical Works), related to the EST Technical Works needed to take the infrastructure to a stage immediately before final design and construction.

Inception of Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation

Dear Colleagues!

We are pleased to inform you that on the 14th of November, 2016 the Hungarian Solar Physics Foundation (HSPF) has been formally registered by the appropriate court. HSPF’s headquarters are in the beautiful spa-city of Gyula, South-East Hungary. HSPF’s new solar observatory is the Gyula Bay Zoltan Solar Observatory (GSO).

Our new robotic telescope for space weather monitoring, called SAMM (Solar Activity MOF Monitor), is ready, its filters are being tested, thanks to the various levels of national and international support received. One of our main future plans is to restore and refurbish the building site of GSO at the top of the water tower of Gyula, so that it can provide a proper home for the new SAMM robotic telescope, and for professional ground-based Hungarian solar physics once more after the unfortunate closure of the Debrecen Heliophysical Observatory in 2016.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone for their support, patience, and help in any form and extent. We hope we can count on your continued professional and other help and support in the future, at home as well as abroad, so that Hungarian ground-based solar physics may flourish once again!

Magyar Napfizikai Alapítvány

Hungarian Solar Physics Fundation

Last update: 2021 Nov © Copyright HSPF 2017