Meeting Information

Why is the Solar Corona So Hot?

April 16, 2014
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

James A. KlimchukDate: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Speaker: Dr. James A. Klimchuk, Heliophysics Science Division, NASA­ GSFC

Topic: Why is the Solar Corona So Hot?

Time and Location: 1:00 PM, with Q&A to follow; in a 1st floor conference room at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD­­ off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: This fundamental question has challenged space scientists for decades. At temperatures of several million kelvins, the corona is hundreds of times hotter than the solar surface, so heat cannot simply flow upward against the temperature gradient. (The same is true on other stars.) It is widely believed that the energy responsible for the extreme temperatures is extracted from the stressed magnetic fields that permeate the corona. The details of how this occurs are still, however, a matter of vigorous debate. Finding the answer is more than just a fascinating intellectual exercise. X­ray and UV radiation from the corona is an important driver of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. In this talk, I will review our current understanding of the coronal heating problem and discuss exciting recent advances, including those made possible by Goddard’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Biography: Dr. James Klimchuk is a research astrophysicist in the Heliophysics Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He specializes in studying the solar corona—the multi­ million­degree outer atmosphere of the Sun that is the primary source of “space weather” that can wreak havoc with technological systems here at Earth. Of particular interest is the question of how the corona is heated to its extreme temperatures. Dr. Klimchuk approaches research problems with a close coordination of theory and observation. He has used data from every solar mission ranging from SMM, to SOHO, to SDO.

Dr. Klimchuk has held numerous elected and appointed leadership positions, including current President of the Space Physics and Aeronomy Section of the American Geophysical Union, Chair of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society, and President of Commission 10 of the International Astronomical Union. He currently chairs the committee that advises NASA on solar and heliospheric physics.

Dr. Klimchuk is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and recipient of the John C. Lindsay Award and NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. He earned a BA in physics from Kalamazoo College and a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in 1985. He worked at Stanford University and the Naval Research Laboratory before joining NASA.