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Astronomical Observatory of Rome (INAF-OAR)

INAF-OAR Solar Physics Group

The research focuses on the atmosphere of the Sun with its rich structure, dynamics, and variety of phenomena, as revealed by observations carried out with state-of-the-art ground-based and space-born telescopes. The research, which is carried out observational activities and analysis of data, also extends to investigation of heliophysics, by considering the impact of solar variability on Earth’s climate, space weather, and space climate.

Left: high spatial resolution broad band image of a bipolar magnetic region in the solar photosphere acquired with the spectro-polarimeter CRISP at the Swedish Solar Telescope (La Palma, Canary Islands). Right: V-Stokes polarization map of the same field of view showing the longitudinal component of the magnetic field vector.


Research fields

  • Plasma-magnetic field interplay in the solar atmosphere
  • Solar activity, solar variability, Sun-Earth relations, space weather, space climate
  • Solar high-resolution instrumentation and adaptive optics
  • Synoptic solar observations

Ongoing Projects

EST European Solar Telescope

EST is the 4-meter class solar telescope in the ESFRI 2016 Roadmap, to be located in the Canary Islands. It will be optimised for studies of the magnetic coupling between the deep photosphere and upper chromosphere. EST Conceptual Design was financed by the European Commission within the FP7. The project has involved 29 partners, plus 9 collaborating institutions, from 15 different countries. INAF-OAR contributed to the study of various parts of the telescope and lead the activities aimed at the definition of requirements and preliminary design of the observatory control and data handling. Since then, INAF-OAR has also contributed to the FP7 SOLARNET (2013-2017), which brings together and integrates the major European research infrastructures in the field of high-resolution solar physics, to the H2020 GREST (2016-2019), which is intended to take the European Solar Telescope (EST) to the next level of development by undertaking crucial activities to improve the performance of current state-of-the-art instrumentation, and to the H2020 PRE-EST (2017-2020) that will address the legal, financial, and socio-economic issues for the attainment of the EST in the next decade.

SAMM Solar Activity MOF Monitor

In 2014 Dal Sasso srl with its brand AVALON Instruments, in partnership with INAF-OAR as scientific advisor, proposed a robotic tomographic telescope for the monitoring of the solar activity, based upon magneto-optical filter technology. Financing was awarded by MiSE in 2015. The first channel of the instrument will see its first light at the beginning of 2017, only one year after the arrival of the first funding. The project is a fruitful example of cooperation between research institutions (INAF) and industry (Dal Sasso/AVALON). Another company involved in the design of the instrument is BDP Engineering & Manufacturing S.c.a.r.L.  Contact: Marco Stangalini.

IBIS-A: The IBIS data Archive

The IBIS data Archive (IBIS-A) contains data acquired with IBIS (Interferometric BIdimensional Spectropolarimeter), an imaging spectro-polarimeter based on a dual Fabry-Perot interferometric system. The IBIS-A has been designed to realize the storage, the management, and the retrieval of the IBIS data through a VO compliant archive. Currently, IBIS-A includes 7.7 TB of data taken during 8 observing campaigns carried out from 2012 to 2016 on 39 days. The data are stored at the INAF OAR. INAF-OAR leads the IBIS-A will be soon integrated in the SOLARNET-SVO and US-VSO Virtual Solar Observatory archives. IBIS-A is realized in a joint effort of Italian research groups contributing to the SOLARNET project.

Synoptic observations of the Sun

From left to right, CaII K (393.4nm), blue continuum (409.4 nm), G-band (430.6 nm) and red continnum (607.1 nm) full-disk images obtained on 1 Dec 2016 with the PSPT (Precision Solar Photometric Telescope) at the INAF OAR.

INAF-OAR has operated the PSPT (Precision Solar Photometric Telescope) since July 1996 in the framework of projects aimed to understand the processes responsible for solar irradiance variations. The PSPT produces daily seeing-limited full-disk digital images various spectral bands, with a 0.1% pixel-to-pixel relative photometric precision. INAF-OAR also contributes to the digitization and analysis of the time series of historical full-disc solar observations taken over the last century, e.g. the CaII K and Hα spectroheliograms acquired from 1926 to 1974 at the G.B. Donati tower of the Arcetri Observatory, and from 1964 to 1979 at the equatorial spar of the Rome Observatory.


Study of the plasma-magnetic field interplay in the solar atmosphere

A sharp view of the solar photosphere obtained on 20 May 2016, 13:53 UT with the spectro-polarimeter IBIS (Fe I 617.3 nm line) at the NSO/Dunn Solar Telescope (New Mexico, USA). The image shows remarkable details of the large sunspot seen in AR NOAA 12546 near the central meridian [S07W07].
INAF-OAR leads a PRIN-INAF-2014 project that aims to acquire and analyse new multi-wavelength data taken with the IBIS (Interferometric BIdimensional Spectropolarimeter), one of the best existing imaging spectro-polarimeters. The analysis of the new data aims at advancing the understanding of the interplay between the plasma and the magnetic field in generating the heating and the evolution of the large-scale magnetic structures affecting the space weather.


Institute web page

Group web page

Contact person: Ilaria Ermolli