The changing Sun

Solar corona

A solar corona: the extended outer atmosphere of the Sun

Project summary

  • Focus: understanding historical and current solar activity

Museum scientists are studying data from ground and satellite-based instruments to better understand current solar activity. This data complements meteorite geochemistry, geological proxy data and historical observations in the interpretation of climate change. 

Scientists Prof Ken Phillips and Dr Claudio Vita-Finzi are studying:

  • extreme ultraviolet wavelength data obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar Dynamics Observatory
  • X-ray wavelength data from a variety of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian spacecraft

Historical observations of solar behaviour and geomagnetism complement the analysis of spacecraft data.

Spectroscopic data is used to determine element abundances, which are then compared to meteoritic values.

Solar history

Our knowledge of solar history is derived from:

  • meteorite geochemistry
  • geological proxy data
  • historical observations

Historical observations of solar behaviour, geomagnetism and other complementary sources are summarised in Solar History: An Introduction (Springer 2010). 



Origins, evolution and futures

We study the Earth's origins, environment and the evolution of life


Mineral and planetary sciences research

Investigating the origins and evolution of Earth and our solar system


Mineralogy collections

Explore one of the world's finest collections of 500,000 rocks, gems and minerals