Research Activity

Research Activity at IRSOL

Istituto ricerche solari Aldo e Cele Daccò (IRSOL) carries out fundamental research in solar physics, with a focus on solar magnetism. The institute’s mission is to understand solar magnetic phenomena to a detail that is needed for forecasting solar activity evolution and its effects on the space weather and terrestrial climate. This is achieved by combining the unique strengths of IRSOL in high-precision solar spectropolarimetry with advanced approaches in theoretical and numerical modelling, computational and data science, and magnetohydrodynamic simulations. IRSOL’s 45 cm telescope, the largest ground-based solar optical telescope in Switzerland, is equipped with the world-leading solar imaging polarimeter ZIMPOL. This unique observational facility has been recognized as an infrastructure of national and international importance.

Institute’s scientific activities are organized in four research groups, each being led by a senior scientist (in the alphabetical order):

  1. Theoretical modelling of polarised radiation in the solar atmosphere, Dr. Luca Belluzzi.
    This group deals with the theoretical and numerical modelling of the polarisation of solar radiation, with a particular focus on the polarisation produced by scatter- ing processes in atomic transitions and its magnetic sensitivity. The overall goal is to fully understand the physical processes at the origin of such polarisation signals and to explore their diagnostic potential to investigate solar magnetic fields in domains not accessible through standard techniques.
  2. Solar Magnetism and Space Weather, Prof. Svetlana Berdyugina.
    This group works on key aspects of solar and stellar magnetism, its evolution and its influence on space weather, Earth, exoplanets, their atmospheres and habitability. Multi-wavelength and multimessenger data from the ground and space are explored and modelled to make a breakthrough in addressing crucial scientific questions and challenges of our human society.
  3. Observations and Instrumentation, Dr. Renzo Ramelli.
    The group is focused on high precision spectropolarimetric observations and on the development of advanced instrumentation to reach this goal. The key instrument is the Zurich Imaging Polarimeter (ZIMPOL) that, thanks to a special technique based on fast modulation and demodulation, allows achieving a very high polarimetric precision. Observations of solar magnetic fields with ZIMPOL are also carried out with the Europe’s largest solar telescope GREGOR.
  4. MHD simulations of the solar and stellar atmospheres, Dr. Oskar Steiner.
    This group carries out numerical 3D magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of stellar plasma in the presence of electric and magnetic fields using powerful computers like Piz Daint at the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS). This allows for a highly detailed study of the Sun and stars. Observable quantities synthesised from the simulated Sun are then compared with real observations.