Montana State University

MSU graduate receives fellowship to continue studying sun

March 30, 2011 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service


MSU graduate Andres Munoz-Jaramillo has received a major fellowship from NASA's Living with a Star program. (Photo courtesy of Andres Munoz-Jaramillo).    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- A Montana State University graduate who helped explain a two-year absence of sunspots has now received a major fellowship from NASA's Living with a Star program.

Andres Munoz-Jaramillo received a Jack Eddy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which will allow him to study more about solar dynamics by using magnetic data from the past 60 years to develop the most accurate database so far on active regions of the sun. One of three awarded this year, the fellowship also provides Munoz-Jaramillo with a mentor - Dr. Ed DeLuca, an astrophysicist with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and leader on two solar missions that involve MSU. Munoz-Jaramillo has been a visiting fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics since earning his doctorate in physics at MSU in 2010.

Munoz-Jaramillo is just the latest graduate of MSU's solar physics program to distinguish himself. Sabrina Savage, a 2010 doctoral graduate, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Jonathan Cirtain, a 2005 doctoral graduate, is chief of the Solar Physics Group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. MSU's solar physics group is one of the most noted in the country for its graduate program. The MSU Solar Physics Group is also one of the largest producers of information about the sun.

"Andres wrote an excellent proposal that describes a two-year program to continue his already very successful thesis research into the basic physics of the solar magnetic cycle. This research program is an essential step toward the ultimate goal of producing forecasts for the solar cycle," said MSU solar physicist Piet Martens, Munoz-Jarmillo's thesis adviser.

The Jack Eddy Postdoctoral Fellowship is named after an American astronomer who published a landmark paper in 1976 that described a 70-year period from 1645-1715 when solar activity - such as sunspots and solar flares -- basically stopped. Eddy, who died in 2009, also documented a previous 90-year period without solar activity. Munoz-Jaramillo and two other solar physicists who starting collaborating at MSU--Dibyendu Nandi and Martens -- published a paper in the March 3 issue of Nature that explained why sunspots were missing from 2008 to 2010. That research was funded by NASA's Living with a Star program and received international attention. The work of solar physicists in understanding the sun is directly applicable in protecting airline travel, power grids and communications satellites.

The Jack Eddy Postdoctoral Fellowship is designed to help train the next generation of researchers needed for the emerging field of heliophysics by pairing an experienced scientist with a postdoctoral scientist who is early in his career. Heliophysics includes all science related to the Earth-sun connection.

The Jack Eddy Postdoctoral Fellowship was created in 2009 when the NASA Living with a Star program joined with the UCAR Visiting Scientist Program. The fellowships are administered through the UCAR Visiting Scientist Program.

For a related article, see "MSU team solves mystery of missing sunspots, helps predict space weather."

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu