Letters of Intent for 2015

LoI 2015-168
Focus Meeting: Solar, Stellar, and Space Physics in the ATST Era

Date: 4 August 2015 to 5 August 2015
Location: Hawaii, United States
Contact: Thomas Berger (tberger@nso.edu)
Coordinating division: Division E Sun and Heliosphere
Co-Chairs of SOC: Thomas Berger (National Sol. Observatory)
Shadia Habbal (Univ. of Hawaii)
Chair of LOC: ()



1) Review of solar and space physics telescopes expected to be in operation in the 2020—2030 time frame (mission/facility reports and previews).
Key science problems expected in the 2020-2030 time frame, including the intersection of stellar and exo-planetary sciences with solar and space physics.
3) Synergies, both expected and needed, between ground and space-based facilities to address these key problems.

4) Future challenges for modeling and simulation and the contributions to key science problems.



The past decade has seen an abundance of solar telescopes and space physics missions put into operation in order to understand our local star the Sun and its local heliosphere environment. Many questions have been addressed, such as dynamo operation and flares and magnetic eruptions, that are recognized as having broader applicability to stellar and planetary physics as well. It is truly a “Golden Age” for solar and space physics and their relation to broader fields in astronomy such as exo-planet habitability.

Culminating this Golden Age will be the forthcoming operation of the largest solar telescope in history: the 4-meter diameter Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), now under construction on Haleakala mountain in Maui, Hawaii. The ATST will offer huge leaps in both spatial and temporal resolution, as well as polarimetric sensitivity for measuring magnetic fields in all regions of the Sun’s atmosphere including the elusive corona. It is certain that such leaps in capability will lead to major discoveries regarding the generation of magnetic fields by astrophysical dynamos such as the Sun’s, the build-up of energy in non-potential magnetic structures, the eruptions of these non-potential structures into interplanetary space to structure the local “space weather” experienced by all bodies in the solar system, and such things as the basic microphysics of partially ionized plasmas interacting with magnetic fields and convective flow fields.

We propose a focus meeting in which solar, stellar, and space physicists can come together to outline their visions for their fields in the 2020—2030 timeframe, identify the key science problems expected to be relevant, and discuss how the ATST and other assets in operation during this time can be used synergistically to address these key problems. The meeting will review the current and proposed facilities and missions, making clear the expected capabilities and focusing on the synergies possible, as well as identifying the key gaps in these areas. For example, what missions in the Small Explorer class might the community propose to, e.g., enable visible light coronagraph observations in the 2020 time frame? Are there smaller ground-based instruments such as the COSMO coronagraph that can be built relatively rapidly to provide unique and complimentary measurements to those of ATST? How can we more closely integrate radio observations from ALMA, CRSH, and the planned FASR facility into solar and space weather research with the ATST?

Tying the issues of solar and space physics into the larger context of stellar and planetary physics will be a key feature of the meeting. Exciting developments in our understanding of the solar dynamo process have led to insights into the range of activity regimes we can expect in Sun-like, and other, stars. The science of starspots and their similarities and differences from sunspots remains an active area of stellar research that may benefit significantly from the availability of the ATST and other very high-resolution polarimetric telescopes. The relatively new study of exo-planet habitability zones relies critically on understanding the relevant “space weather” conditions and galactic cosmic ray modulation around host stars, thus directly tying the study of our solar system’s response to magnetic activity to the study of other solar systems in the galaxy.

The meeting will be a full 2-day Focus Meeting to be held during the next IAU General Assembly in August 2015, in Honolulu, Hawaii. This will be a timely and focused opportunity to review, within the community at large, the current status and future expectations of the ATST, new and planned radio facilities, the anticipated and required space missions to complement them, and the numerical modeling advances required to work in synergy with these new facilities.