Nanoflares (as the name would suggest) are 'nano' sized flare events, with about one billionth the energy of a standard flare. While small compared to the energy produced in other solar processes, the energy released during a typical nanoflare event (about 10^17 Joules) is equivalent to the Tsar Bomba (the largest nuclear weapon ever tested).
Nanoflares are incredibly frequent, with hundreds or thousands occurring every second across the Sun and other stellar sources, so theoretically they can be a very significant part of a star's energy budget. This means they could be a significant source of coronal heating, and potentially answer the mystery that has plagued astrophysics for over 80 years — How can stellar coronae be orders of magnitude hotter than their surface? However, the challenge is that nanoflares are too faint and small-scale to be detected directly through observations. Even for our closest star, the Sun, they reside below the noise floor of individual measurements.
Recent advances at QUB in nanoflare simulation techniques have allowed us to examine a range of possible nanoflaring scenarios across the Sun and other stellar sources. These novel studies have shed light on the physical conditions of these mysterious and potentially very significant flare events. We are seeking a summer student to work on modernisation of this numerical code, alongside scientific interpretation of the outputs produced. The current code is written in IDL. With your help, we aim to develop an open source, optimised, and parallelised simulation code (ideally in C or Python), which will speed up nanoflare modelling and lead to exciting new developments in this novel field. Knowledge of IDL is not essential, as the simulation code is at heart based off a simple physical model of the flare. An ideal student is proficient with C and/or Python. Applications open to computer science backgrounds as well as physicists.
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