D a v i d A l e x a n d e r
Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Palo Alto CA
A Week in Paris
The last day of a workshop is always a panic to get things done before heading home. Having learned my lesson on the previous day I was leisurely about getting to the Institute. I met Lyndsay in the hotel lobby and we checked out having booked into a hotel in the 14th arondissement (district) of Paris, for Friday and Saturday night. Another chocolat and croissant later we were at the Institute ready to begin the day's labor. Everyone was getting together at 4 pm to pool our results and discuss the follow-up work we would all do at our home institutions. We had seven hours to solve our problems and get some meaningful results. It turned out that all three groups had a fairly productive day. In our group we had managed to solve most of the overlay problems and had actually made an interesting discovery.
We found that a region of bright loops could be directly related to the appearance and subsequent disappearance of short-lived magnetic bipole. This is like a little magnet popping up in the neighborhood of a much bigger magnet but with the poles reversed. This combination doesn't do much in the classroom but on the Sun, where the strengths of the field are relatively strong and the plasma density is very low, the presence of such a bipole can have dramatic consequences. Not only did this bipole seem to play a role in heating a part of the active region but, on checking with one of the other groups, it also seemed to tie in nicely with a radio storm which occurred in the same place at roughly the same time. A radio storm is a short-lived brightening of radio emission caused by the presence of high-energy charged particles moving in the active region magnetic field.
It is too early to say exactly how all of these things are related but we will continue to work on these data and hopefully we might be able to gain some understanding of the interaction of the magnetic field and the plasma in this active region.
Saturday March 13
The rest of the time in France was spent doing some sight-seeing and walking around the great city of Paris, but all the time I was thinking about how good it would be to get back to my family in California.