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Antoinette B. Galvin
Research Professor
Joint Appointment Department of Physics
Ph.D., University of Maryland

I began my position here at the the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire in December 1997. Prior to that time, I was a member of the research faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, where I also received my PhD in 1982. I did my undergraduate studies at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The solar wind is a continuous stream of charged particles, both ions and electrons (called a plasma), that come from the sun, filling interplanetary space. The particles in the solar wind travel at more than a million miles per hour (our SOHO experiment gives realtime solar wind speeds). About 90-95% of the ions in the solar wind are hydrogen atoms that have one electron stripped off (H+) and electrons. The next major contribution (5-10%) is helium (usually He+2). About 0.1% of the particles are other elements (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, neon, sodium, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, argon, calcium, iron, nickel, zinc, to name a few). Studying this 0.1% of the solar wind provides a wealth of information regarding the outer layers of the sun.

My research includes solar wind composition, including charge states and relative abundances during different types of solar wind flows (e.g., coronal mass ejections, interstream, and coronal hole-associated) and the implications for the solar coronal processes (e.g., the elemental abundances of solar wind compared to photospheric abundances, and coronal temperature gradients inferred from charge states). Recent analysis includes isotopic abundances of the solar wind using results from SOHO.

Another area of study are solar energetic particles. Solar energetic particles are a thousand times more energetic than the solar wind, and are intermittently released from the sun during solar eruptions (solar flares, coronal mass ejections). UNH has an experiment called SEPICA on the ACE spacecraft to study the composition of these solar particles. The sun undergoes an 11 year cycle, most visibly evidenced by the number of sun spots on its surface. As the sun approaches its sun spot maximum, the frequency of the solar eruptions that create solar energetic particles will increase. This all has to do with the twisting of the magnetic field on the sun.

The work I do is as much hardware as science: this includes design and development of instruments (as part of a team effort of course), the calibration of instruments, the commanding and operation of instruments in space (flight operations), the programming involved in the data reduction, and of course the scientific analysis. In either a hardware or data capacity I have been involved with one or more experiments on seven space missions: the International Sun Earth Explorer (ISEE) -1, International Sun Earth Explorer -3 (which later became the International Cometary Explorer, ICE), Ulysses, Wind, Geotail, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and most recently the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE). Most recently, we have been selected to build an instrument to measure the solar wind and supra thermal particles, which will fly on two spacecraft called the STEREO mission (launch 2006).