Astrophysics & Solar Physics

Astrophysics & Solar Physics

Core to corona: understanding our Sun and other stars

How much light does the Sun emit? How does solar light affect the climate and space environment? And how do other stars differ from our Sun?

Researchers at LASP are recognized leaders in heliophysics and astrophysics research. Light from the Sun is the largest source of energy for the atmosphere of Earth and other planets, but it’s challenging to measure. Our engineers and scientists have risen to this challenge by building incredibly precise instruments for NASA and NOAA to measure the Sun’s light.

LASP researchers use the resulting data to model the dynamic processes happening in different regions of our star, from its core to the surrounding corona, to model the output of the Sun over different timescales of variability and to glean how this light interacts with Earth and planetary atmospheres. In addition, our data systems team maintains an archive of all the solar irradiance data sets measured by our instruments as part of the LASP Interactive Solar Irradiance Datacenter (LISIRD).

Our scientists are also actively studying the atmospheres of exoplanets and their interactions with their host stars to understand how they compare with our planets and Sun, how our solar system may have evolved over its history, and whether planets orbiting other stars may be suitable for life as we know it.

Current research topics include:

  • How and why the Sun varies over time, from seconds to months to years to centuries
  • How the Sun’s light affects Earth’s climate
  • Ways that solar light affects space weather, which can impact space-based technology and human exploration in space
A solar flare erupting from the Sun