Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Sarah Conley (nee Horvath) was one of 29 early career authors recognized for having a top paper published in 2022 in Physics of Plasmas, a journal covering the breadth of research in plasma physics. The paper titled "Observing particle energization above the Nyquist frequency: An application of the field-particle correlation technique" was also selected as an Editor's Pick, a rare honor for a graduate student first-author.
The plasma particles that stream away from the Sun, called the solar wind, have higher than expected temperatures. Figuring out what processes heat this plasma as it flows through the solar system is an active area of research. To help answer this question, Sarah uses computer simulations to study the signatures created by a particle heating mechanism called Landau damping. By characterizing the signature’s appearance, how it changes with distance from the Sun, and how well the signature can be observed given a spacecraft’s sampling rate, this project will help current and future spacecraft identify the presence of Landau damping in space and determine the role this process plays in heating the solar wind.