Dr. Lucie Green

Her research focuses on the study of the evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field and how it drives solar activity that in turn leads to space weather at the Earth.

Lucinda “Lucie” May Green was born in 1975 in Bedfordshire, England. She is a British science communicator and solar physicist. Green attended Dame Alice Harpur School in Bedfordshire, gaining 9 GCSEs and 4 A-levels.

After school, she initially studied art, before deciding later to study physics. She graduated with a 2:1 Master of Physics degree in physics with astrophysics from the University of Sussex. In 2002, Green completed her Ph.D. in solar physics at the MSSL, University College Lonon.

I always liked physics from an early age while I was at school. That was my passion: problem-solving or asking questions and then finding out ways of answering those questions. But I never had a burning ambition of being a space scientist, and I wasn’t even into amateur astronomy [at that time].

I had been inspired to learn more about our local star after an undergraduate observing trip to the Crimea where I was able to use a solar telescope. I haven’t looked back since.

Dr. Lucie Green

After gaining her Ph.D., she moved to Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and became the Project Co-ordinator of the Faulkes Telescope Project[1]. The project enables schools to have remote use of two two-meter class telescopes located in Hawaii (Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii) and Australia (Faulkes Telescope South in Australia).

Green is a Professor of Physics and a Leverhulme Research Fellow (previously the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow), at MSSL. Her current work focuses on the pattern of magnetic fields in the Sun’s atmosphere, which sporadically erupt to form a coronal mass ejection; how these relate to geomagnetic activity, and what this means for those living on the Earth.

Her research focuses on the study of the evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field and how it drives solar activity that in turn leads to space weather at the Earth. Lucie’s early work used new techniques to quantify the amount of magnetic helicity ejected by the Sun during events called coronal mass ejections.

The results are important for many areas of solar physics including dynamo theory[2] and the evolution of the global solar magnetic field. More recently, she has focussed on the question of whether or not flux ropes form in the lower solar atmosphere before coronal mass ejections.

Dr. Green is interested in how observations can be used to quantify the magnetic flux in these ropes so that we can better understand their evolution to an unstable and eruptive configuration. This work is important for developing the science that underpins space weather forecasting.

The Sun’s hot atmosphere can’t be contained by the star’s gravity, so it manages to escape into space. The gases are expanding outwards at huge speeds of around 400-800 kilometres (250-500 miles) per second and it has taken us a long time to understand exactly how those gases get away and accelerate up to those speeds. In some areas the gases should be held on the star by magnetic structures; the Sun’s atmosphere is filled with magnetic fields. Because the gases in the atmosphere are ionised they should be trapped and tied to these magnetic fields, yet we often see gas winds escaping and it has been a real puzzle [as to] why that happens. However, recently some work done by a colleague of mine has shown there are chimney structures in the magnetic fields that form where the gases can flow out. That’s answered a 50-year-old question in solar physics.

Dr. Lucie Green

I first heard Dr. Lucie talking with Dr. Karl on the Shirtloads of Science podcast. She has appeared as herself on lots of TV shows like “Stargazing Live” 2012 – 2015 (5 Ep.), “Nova” 2022-2023 (2 Ep.), “Horizon” 2012 (1 Ep.), and “Pointless Celebrities” 2019 (1 Ep.)

Shirtloads of Science Podcast
Dr. Lucie & Dr. Karl at 15 million degrees

  1. The Faulkes Telescope Project (FTP) is supported by the Dill Faulkes Educational Trust. It provides access to 1,500 hours of observing time on two 2-meter class telescopes located in Hawaii (Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii) and Australia (Faulkes Telescope South in Australia). This time is dedicated to education and public outreach, mainly in the UK, but also for smaller, selected projects in Europe and the US. FTP has operated a UK-wide educational program since 2004 and currently works with science education projects across Europe and further afield (e.g. USA, Russia, Israel), including many EU-based science, maths, and ICT programs. FTP specializes in providing physics and maths education and outreach via astronomy and space science, utilizing the unique access it can provide to research-grade facilities. The basic philosophy is to engage learners in “real science”, making them active participants in a range of astronomical research projects, ranging from observations of the solar system to distant galaxies. Teacher training (both face-to-face and online) is a core component of the FTP educational philosophy, and project staff has been involved in professional development work both in the UK and overseas, with teacher training days being held in Moscow, Santa Barbara, Munich, Lisbon, Paris and several other venues in Portugal and Spain. [Back]
  2. In physics, the dynamo theory proposes a mechanism by which a celestial body such as Earth or a star generates a magnetic field. The dynamo theory describes the process through which a rotating, convecting, and electrically conducting fluid can maintain a magnetic field over astronomical time scales. A dynamo is thought to be the source of the Earth’s magnetic field and the magnetic fields of Mercury and the Jovian planets. [Back]

Further Reading


UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics
How It Works
Lucie Green

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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