The Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC)

The work of this Centre is at the forefront of addressing theoretical and observational issues in solar and solar system physics that include solar magneto-seismology, solar MHD, dynamics of the solar atmosphere, solar wind, magnetosphere and Space Weather. This Centre is one of the largest and most dynamic solar and solar system physics research groups in the country and is well renowned internationally.

SP2RC is made up of two research groups:

contact information:

Prof Robertus (Erdelyi) von Fay-Siebenburgen, Head of SP2RC

email: robertus [at]

tel.: +44 114 2223832



SP2RC, University of Sheffield

Hicks Building, Hounsfield Rd


S3 7RH

United Kingdom


Main group members/staff

  • Professor Michael Balikhin Deputy head of SP2RC
    Expertise: Professor of Space Systems
  • Dr Istvan Ballai
    Expertise: Solar plasma physics, linear and nonlinear waves
  • Dr Viktor Fedun
    Expertise: Solar plasma physics, linear and nonlinear waves, kinetic plasma theory, MHD simulations
  • Dr Rekha Jain
    Expertise: Solar physics, Helioseismology, MHD
  • Dr Eun-Jin Kim
    Expertise: Solar/stellar physics, magnetically confined fusion plasmas, fluid dynamics, MHD, turbulence, self-organisation, intermittency
  • Dr Simon A Pope
    Expertise: Magnetic field onboard spacecraft; BAE Systems
  • Prof Michael Ruderman
    Expertise: Hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics. Waves and instablities. Applications to solar and space physics.
  • Prof Robert von Fay-Siebenburgen Head of SP2RC
    Expertise: Solar physics, MHD Waves, Instabilities, Solitons
  • Dr Gary Verth
    Expertise: Solar MHD waves
  • Dr Mike Griffiths Scientific Officer
    Expertise: MHD simulations
  • Dr Yi Li
    Expertise: Theoretical and numerical studies of turbulence. Large eddy simulation and sub-grid scale modelling.

Main activities

The Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP²RC) at the University of Sheffield seeks to understand the nature of key plasma processes occurring in the solar interior and the atmosphere of the Sun, from photosphere to corona, with particular attention devoted to the various coupling mechanisms of these apparently distinct regions.

Our mathematical approach involves rigorous analytical work and the implementation of parallel computing (GRID technology) where results are continuously tested by making and using ground-base(e.g. SST La Palma, DSO New Mexico  DHO Hungary) and high-resolution satellite observations (e.g. SOHO, TRACE, Hinode, SDO and IRIS).

SP²RC’s research programme involves projects on Helioseismology, Convection Zone & Tachocline, Oscillations & Dynamics in the Solar Atmosphere, Global Coronal Seismology, Magnetic Reconnection, and Absolute & Convective Instabilties. We have also started a new research direction in Space Weather. Here, the aim is to improve our capability of forecasting solar eruptive events (flares and CMEs).

The main aims of SP²RC are

  1. to understand the key important physical processes governing the energy flow from the convective zone to the solar atmosphere and down to the Earth’s upper atmosphere using analysis of observational data, and through mathematical and computational modelling.
  2. to model the coupling of the various traditionally considered ‘distinct’ regions of the Sun-Earth system (e.g. momentum transport through tachocline; coupling of global solar oscillations to the solar atmosphere; magnetic coupling from photosphere to corona and CMEs; etc.).
  3. to develop and update our mathematical and computational models, and our data analysis techniques to achieve the above objectives.
  4. to verify observationally our mathematical and numerical modelling.
  5. to absorb advances made elsewhere and disseminate our results/knowledge base in order to keep the Group’s activities at the forefront of world-wide research.
  6. to offer PhD and postdoctoral training of the highest possible quality.
  7. to contribute UK’s leadership of the high-profile international solar research.

Recent PhD completions

Dr Nabil Freij: The identification and analysis of MHD waves and oscillations in localised solar atmos, 2015

Dr Stuart Mumford: Simulations ofMagnetohydrodynamic Waves Driven by Photospheric Motions, 2015

Dr Alastair Williamson: Time-dependent Resonant Damping in Coronal Loops, 2013

Dr Chris Nelson: Properties of Ellerman Bombs and Implications about Formation Mechanisms, 2015