T h o m a s  R i m m e l e
Site Director
National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak

My name is Thomas Rimmele and I am the Site Director at NSO's Sacramento Peak Observatory. My scientific work is focused on understanding the basic physics of astrophysical processes that can be studied in a unique way on the Sun. Examples are: How does stellar convection work and how are magnetic fields generated by convective motions? How does a sunspot work? How are solar oscillations generated? What sets off a flare? Why is the solar corona as hot as it is (a few million degrees K)? There is a lot of advanced physics involved in all of this and if I didn't know it back then I now understand what the broad physics and math training I received at high school and at the University was good for.

To find the answers to these questions we need to observe the Sun at very high resolution. Building the instruments that allow us to obtain high resolution observations is quite a challenge. I love to work on challenging projects so I spend a lot of time on developing new instrumentation like adaptive optics. Being able to observe, for example, a sunspot at a resolution that has never been achieved before is a very exciting experience.

I am also involved in the Solar-B mission (the Japanese-US spacecraft which will follow up on Yohkoh), which will be launched in 2004.

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