Sun, Stars, and Exoplanets

Solar and Stellar Physics Group


The research activities of the Solar and Stellar Physics group are centred on studies of stars including the Sun, the discovery and characterisation of exoplanet systems, and stellar population studies. In particular the group uses the technique of analysing resonant oscillations - the "music of the stars" - which is called "helioseismology" when applied to the Sun, and "asteroseismology" when applied to other stars. Expertise in the group spans the domains of observation and instrumentation through to theory and modelling.


The group runs its own global network of helioseismic observatories, the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network (BiSON). For more than three of the magnetic activity cycles, BiSON has provided round-the-clock observations of the resonating Sun - data of exquisite precision on the conditions in the solar interior. In addition to illuminating the inner workings of the Sun, these data also allow us the study the near-surface layers from where variations in the Sun’s emissions, and the resulting solar storms, are driven.

The group contains experts in the field of asteroseismology and exoplanets, and our academics have worked extensively with data from space based telescopes and large ground based telescopes. The group is also one of the nodes of the Stellar Astrophysics Centre (SAC), an international centre of excellence in stellar and exoplanet studies. Members of the group have leading positions in major international projects, such as Kepler, K2, PLATO and TESS.

BiSON image © S.J. Hale.
Exoplanet image © NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt.