My research interest encompasses understanding the variability of our star, the Sun, and the influence of this variability on our space environment and planetary atmospheres such as that of Earth, including its climate. The Sun is a variable star. It’s magnetic, particulate and radiative energy output varies, most notably over the 11 year sunspot cycle, but also over stellar and planetary evolutionary timescales stretching from centuries to billions of years. This solar variability forces the atmosphere of planets and shapes the evolution of climate – studies of which are broadly classified under the rapidly emerging new science of Space Climate.
On shorter timescales of days, solar magnetic storms (the most energetic explosions in the solar system) spew out vast amounts of magnetized plasma (charged particles), which on the one hand create beautiful auroras, but on the other hand, pose a hazard to orbiting satellites, telecommunication facilities, electric power grids, oil pipelines at high latitudes and air-traffic on polar routes. Understanding the origin of these storms and how they affect our modern day society is classified as the science of Space Weather.
I use theoretical, observational and computational methods in addressing the science of Space Weather and Climate. This includes, but is not limited to magnetohydrodynamic studies of solar and stellar dynamo mechanism – the physical process that creates stellar magnetic fields, theoretical simulations of the origin and evolution of solar magnetic storms, studies of magnetic helicity and flux tube dynamics, understanding processes that result in instabilities in the magnetic configuration of sunspots, exploring the origins of variations in the solar radiative energy output and assessing the role of solar activity in climate change.
I am also involved in developing techniques for space weather forecasting and space mission support, primarily motivated from the viewpoint of utilizing ideas and experiences gained from the basic sciences to support technological advances that benefit humanity.
Research projects that I am involved in are supported in parts by the Ramanujan Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, and the NASA Living With a Star program.