Simon Opie

Simon Opie

Profile Display Name:

Simon Opie

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2020 (Cohort 7)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title

Kinetic instabilities and turbulence in the solar wind and magnetosheath: Space-weather impact on magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere coupling

Research Theme

Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Processes

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


Additional supervisor(s)

Christopher Owen (UCL),


The solar wind is a continuous outflow of plasma from the Sun, which expands into the space between the planets in our solar system and forms the heliosphere. The solar wind is inherently turbulent and characterised by instabilities on a range of scales. The Sun also intermittently ejects mass (CME) or energetic particles (SEP) which change their trajectory or energy due to their interactions with the solar wind. When these violent particle events hit the Earth’s magnetosphere, they can cause “space-weather” with both long- and short-term impacts on our natural and technological environment. The understanding of the solar wind, as the medium through which space-weather events propagate, and its coupling with the magnetosphere is crucial for the development of successful space-weather prediction and mitigation strategies. This project will investigate the behaviour and the effects of kinetic instabilities in a turbulent plasma with particular emphasis on energy transfer processes. For the investigation of these nonlinear processes, a cross-disciplinary approach combining theoretical analysis, numerical simulations and a variety of observational datasets will be used. This project will utilise the unprecedented observations from ESA’s Solar Orbiter spacecraft, launched in February 2020, to advance our understanding of the Sun, the solar wind, and space-weather.

Policy Impact
Background Reading
  • Verscharen et al., 2019
  • Chen C. H. K., 2016
  • Muller et al., 2020
  • Publications

    Conferences and Workshops
    • EGU 2021.
    • PSP Scholars 1, 2 & 3.
    • Solar Orbiter Science Working Groups.
    • AGU 2021 (December 2021). Poster: Kinetic instabilities and turbulence in the solar wind..
    • Autumn MIST (November 2021). Talk: Kinetic instabilities and turbulence in the solar wind explored using Solar Orbiter data.
    • Theo Murphy scientific meeting (May 2022).
    • NAM 2022 (July 2022). Talk: Kinetic instabilities in small scale turbulence observed by Solar Orbiter.
    • EGU 2022 (May 2022). Talk: Can instabilities work in a turbulent plasma and if so, what conditions are needed for them to act?.
    • Arcetri 2022 (November 2022). Talk: Turbulence and Instabilities in the Solar Wind: An investigation of scale-dependent processes using Solar Orbiter data.
    • .
    • Space Science Week

    Social Links
    University Departmental Website:

    Personal Website:




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