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The Field of Solar Physics: Review and Recommendations for Ground-Based Solar Research Report of the Committee on Solar Physics Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Wash i ngton D C. 1989
NOTICE: Lee project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose membem are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineenng, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of membem of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identity issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number AST-8704262. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 89~2832 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04082-5 Available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America
COMMITTEE ON SOILER PHYSICS ROBERT ROSNER, University of Chicago, Chairman URI FELDMAN, Naval Research Laboratory JOFIN W. HARVEY, National Solar Observatory HUGH S. HUDSON, University of California, San Diego FRANCIS S. JOHNSON, University of Texas, Dallas ROBERT M. MacQUEEN, National Center for Atmospheric Research EUGENE N. PARKER, University of Chicago GEORGE W. PRESTON, Mt. Wilson and Las Campanas Observatories REUVEN RAMATY, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration JOHN S. PERRY, Staff Director DONALD H. HUNT, Consultant . . - 111
COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND RESOURCES NORMAN HACKERMAN, Robert ~ Welch Foundation, Chairman ROBERT C. BEARDSLEY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution B. CLARK BURCHFIEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology GEORGE F. CARRIER, Harvard University RALPH J. CICERONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research HERBERT D. DOAN, The Dow Chemical Company (retired) PETER S. EAGLESON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DEAN E. EASTMAN, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center MARYE ANNE FOX, University of Texas GERHART FRIEDLANDER, Brookhaven National Laboratory LAWRENCE W. FUNKHOUSER, Chevron Corporation (retired) PHILLIP ~ GRIFFITHS, Duke University NEAL F. LANE, Rice University CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE, University of California at Berkeley RICHARD S. NICHOLSON, American Association for the Advancement of Science JACK E. OLIVER, Cornell University JEREMIAH P. OSTRIKER, Princeton University Observatory PHILIP ~ PALMER, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company FRANK L. PARKER, Vanderbilt University DENIS J. PRAGER, MacArthur Foundation DAVID M. RAUP, University of Chicago ROY F. SCHWI l l E;RS, Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory LARRY L. SMARR, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign KARL K TUREKIAN, Yale University MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director ROBERT M. SIMON, Acting Associate Executive Director 1V
Preface Solar physics stands in a privileged position at the crossroad be- tween laborato~y-oriented experimental and theoretical physics and ob- servationally oriented astrophysics. Many of the basic physical processes thought to be relevant to the workings of astrophysical systems- including nuclear energy sources, particle acceleration, production and excitation of highly charged atoms, and magnetic field generation, dissipation, and reconnection as well as the tools for studying these processes were stud- ied and developed in the solar context before they were applied to other problems in astrophysics. Indeed, the history of astrophysics over the past several decades is replete with examples of the application of both instrumental designs and theoretical precepts transferred from the solar domain to more general astrophysical problems. Because physical conditions in the Sun's outer lay- ers, which reach temperatures of up to 40 million K, are not unlike those encountered in laboratory studies of confined plasmas, the experimental and theoretical developments in solar physics have found immediate appli- cation in terrestrial laboratories as well. Thus the study of solar plasmas dates from the very beginnings of plasma diagnostics as a distinct discipline. Study of the Fraunhofer (discrete absorption line) solar spectrum, involv- ing such great pioneers of atomic spectroscopy as G. R. Kirchhoff (who identified the sodium D lines in the solar spectrum), and application of the (then novel) atomic line Zeeman splitting in studies of sunspot magnetic fields led to the key realization that spectroscopy could be used to probe the physical condition of gases far removed from direct inspection. This opened up the possibility of studying detailed physical processes in other- wise inaccessible astronomical objects and laid the groundwork for much of today's astrophysics and laboratory plasma physics. v
This report's aim is to consider the status of solar science today. Constituted by the National Research Council's Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources at the behest of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Committee on Solar Physics focused on those aspects of solar science that fall under the purview of the NSF. The specific charges for this committee were as follows: 1. A review of the present vitality, quality, and directions of solar research, starting with a number of existing studies as points of departure. 2. A determination of present and future needs of the solar commu- nity for ground-based observational facilities and instrumentation and for related analysis and theory, with emphasis on those aspects of the needs that are of relevance to NSF, and a determination of priorities. 3. An identification of possible institutional changes to help accom- plish the program the committee will recommend over the long term, i.e., changes that might be effected to make it possible for scientists to do their research. Given these charges, this committee focused on those organizational aspects of solar science that involve primarily ground-based observations. However, because of the closely knit interactions between ground-based and space-based solar science, some commentary on possible ways to optimize these interactions and to improve the general health of solar science seemed to the committee both unavoidable and perfectly appropriate. Chapter 1 is a summary of the committee's principal findings and recommendations. Chapter 2 provides a science overview of solar research today. Chapter 3 focuses on the principal science opportunities and initia- tives in the four research areas currently at the forefront of solar physics: (1) probing the solar interior, (2) the physics at small spatial scales, (3) mechanisms underlying the solar cycle, and (4) the physics of transients. A discussion of institutional issues in solar physics leading to the committee's recommendations is presented in Chapter 4. Robert Rosner Chairman Committee on Solar Physics V1
Contents 1 PRINCIPAL FINDINGS 1 2 SOLAR RESEARCH TODAY: A SCIENCE OVERVIEW 4 3 PRINCIPAL SCIENCE OPPORTUNITIES AND INITIATIVES FOR GROUND-BASFD SOLAR RESEARCH 4 INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS APPENDIXES A The Demographics of Solar Physics B National Science Foundation Funding for Solar Physics C Previous Relevant National Research Council Reports . - V11 16 42 55 57 60