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Dr Alexander Russell

Lecturer in Applied Mathematics
School of Science and Engineering
Fulton Building
University of Dundee
Dundee DD1 4HN
Fulton G14
+44 (0)1382 388728
+44 (0)1382 385516

picture of Alexander Russell

Research Interests:

I am interested in astrophysical plasmas such as the Sun and Earth's magnetosphere (our immediate space environment, of interest to auroras and space weather), in which magnetic fields play a dominant role. My research uses a mixture of mathematical analysis and computer simulations, often with codes I have developed, and I also have experience analysing observational data. My research has mainly focused on:

  • Magnetohydrodynamic waves, especially Alfvénic waves in the Sun and the Earth's magnetosphere. As well as writing many research papers on this topic (see publication list below) I recently authored the invited review "75th Anniversary of ‘Existence of Electromagnetic-Hydrodynamic Waves".

  • MHD of solar flares and eruptions, implosions, sunquake excitation and 3D reconnection - e.g. ISSI team on the role of MHD waves in solar flares.

  • Self-organisation of magnetic fields (non-ideal magnetic relaxation) with particular application to solar activity and fusion-reactor-type plasma experiments.

  • Magnetic helicity including development of field line helicity for studying magnetic reconnection.

  • Magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions e.g. ESA science highlight.

  • Solar surface magnetic fields (active regions and quiet Sun).

  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), MHD waves and magnetic reconnection.

Employment & Education

  • July 2016 to present: Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, University of Dundee.

  • July 2013 to June 2016: Research Fellow in Solar Magnetohydrodynamics, University of Dundee.

  • Oct. 2010 to June 2013: Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, University of Glasgow, “Auroras Shine Light on Solar Flares”.

  • Oct. 2007 to Sep. 2010: Ph.D., University of St Andrews, supervisor: Dr. A. N. Wright, “Coupling of the Solar Wind, Magnetosphere and Ionosphere by MHD Waves”.

  • Sep. 2003 to June 2007: MPhys 1st Class, Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of St Andrews.


Published papers are also listed, with citation statistics, on my Pure (Scopus) and publons (Web of Science) profiles and at ADS.

My PhD thesis, Coupling of the Solar Wind, Magnetosphere and Ionosphere by MHD Waves (University of St Andrews, 2010) is also available online.

  1. Russell, A. J. B., Demoulin, P., Hornig, G., Pontin, D., I. and Candelaresi, S. (2019),
    Do Current and Magnetic Helicities Have the Same Sign?,
    The Astrophysical Journal, 884, 55, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab40b4.
    ApJ (open access) ADS

  2. Russell, A. J. B. (2018),
    75th Anniversary of ‘Existence of Electromagnetic-Hydrodynamic Waves’,
    Solar Physics, 293:83, doi:10.1007/s11207-018-1296-3.
    Solar Physics (open access) ADS arXiv

  3. Russell, A. J. B. (2018),
    Commentary: Discovery of the Sun’s million-degree hot corona,
    Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Science, 5:9, doi: 10.3389/fspas.2018.00009.
    Frontiers (open access) ADS

  4. Reep, J. W., Russell, A. J. B., Tarr, L. A. and Leake, J. E. (2018),
    "A Hydrodynamic Model of Alfvénic Wave Heating in a Coronal Loop and its Chromospheric Footpoints",
    The Astrophysical Journal, 853, 101, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aaa2fe.
    ApJ ADS arXiv

  5. Pascoe, D. J., Russell, A. J. B., Anfinogentov, S. A., Simoes, P. J. A., Goddard, C. R., Nakariakov, V. M. and Fletcher, L. (2017),
    "Seismology of contracting and expanding coronal loops using damping of kink oscillations by mode coupling",
    Astronomy & Astrophysics, 607, A8, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201730915.
    A&A ADS

  6. Reep, J. W., Warren, H. P., Leake, J. E., Tarr, L. A., Russell, A. J. B., Kerr, G. S. and Hudson, H. S. (2017),
    "Science Objective: Understanding Energy Transport by Alfvénic Waves in Solar Flares",
    Next Generation Solar Physics Mission White Paper.
    ADS arXiv

  7. Russell, A. J. B, Mooney, M. K., Leake, J. E. and Hudson, H. S. (2016),
    "Sunquake generation by coronal magnetic restructuring",
    The Astrophysical Journal, 831, 42, doi:10.3847/0004-637X/831/1/42.
    ApJ ADS arXiv

  8. Kerr, G. S., Fletcher, L., Russell, A. J. B. and Allred, J. C. (2016),
    "Simulations of the Mg II k and Ca II 8542 lines from an Alfvén wave heated flare chromosphere",
    The Astrophysical Journal, 827, 101, doi:10.3847/0004-637X/827/2/101.
    ApJ ADS arXiv

  9. Pontin, D. I., Candelaresi, S., Russell, A. J. B. and Hornig, G. (2016),
    "Braided magnetic fields: equilibria, relaxation and heating",
    Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 58, 5, doi:10.1088/0741-3335/58/5/054008.
    PPCF ADS arXiv

  10. Reep, J. and Russell, A. J. B. (2016),
    "Alfvénic wave heating of the upper chromosphere in flares",
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 818, L20, doi:10.3847/2041-8205/818/1/L20.
    ApJL ADS arXiv

  11. Russell, A. J. B., Yeates, A. R. and Eastwood, J. P. (2015),
    "Magnetic reconnection: where now and where next?",
    Astronomy & Geophysics, 56 (6): 6.18-6.23, doi:10.1093/astrogeo/atv197.
    A&G ADS

  12. Russell, A. J. B., Simões, P. J. A. and Fletcher, L. (2015),
    "A unified view of coronal loop contraction and oscillation in flares",
    Astronomy & Astrophysics, 581, A8, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201525746.
    A&A ADS arXiv
    UKSP Nugget

  13. Yeates, A. R., Russell, A. J. B. and Hornig, G. (2015),
    "Physical role of topological constraints in localized magnetic relaxation",
    Proc. R. Soc. A, 471, 20150012, doi:10.1098/rspa.2015.0012.
    Proc. R. Soc. A ADS arXiv

  14. Russell, A. J. B., Karlsson, T. and Wright, A. N. (2015),
    "Magnetospheric signatures of ionospheric density cavities observed by Cluster",
    J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 120, 1876, doi:10.1002/2014JA020937.
    ESA science highlight The Courier St Andrews in the News

  15. Russell, A. J. B., Yeates, A. R., Hornig, G. and Wilmot-Smith, A. L. (2015),
    "Evolution of field line helicity during magnetic reconnection",
    Phys. Plasmas, 22, 032106, doi:10.1063/1.4913489.
    PoP ADS arXiv

  16. Wright, A. N. and Russell, A. J. B. (2014),
    "Alfvén wave boundary condition for responsive magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling",
    J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, 3996, doi:10.1002/2014JA019763.

  17. Vidotto, A. A., Jardine, M., Morin, J., Donati, J. F., Lang, P. and Russell, A. J. B. (2014),
    "Planetary protection in the extreme environments of low-mass stars",
    Proceedings of the IAU, Volume 9, Symposium S302, pp 237-238, Cambridge University Press, doi:10.1017/S1743921314002166.

  18. Simões, P. J. A., Fletcher, L., Hudson, H. and Russell, A. J. B. (2013),
    "Implosion of coronal loops during the impulsive phase of a solar flare",
    The Astrophysical Journal, 777, 152, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/777/2/152.
    ApJ ADS arXiv
    UKSP Nugget RAS Press Release

  19. Russell, A. J. B. and Stackhouse, D. J. (2013),
    "Solar flares and focused energy transport by MHD waves",
    Astronomy and Astrophysics, 558, 76, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201321916.
    A&A ADS

  20. Vidotto, A. A., Jardine, M., Morin, J., Donati, J. F., Lang, P. and Russell, A. J. B. (2013),
    "Effects of M dwarf magnetic fields on potentially habitable planets",
    Astronomy and Astrophysics, 557, A67, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201321504.
    A&A ADS arXiv
    RAS Press Release Sky & Telescope Article

  21. Russell, A. J. B., Wright, A. N. and Streltsov, A. V. (2013),
    "Production of small-scale Alfvén waves by ionospheric depletion, nonlinear magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling and phase-mixing",
    J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 118, 1, doi:10.1002/jgra.50168.
    JGR ADS arXiv

  22. Russell, A. J. B. and Fletcher, L. (2013),
    "Propagation of Alfvénic waves from corona to chromosphere and consequences for solar flares,"
    The Astrophysical Journal, 765, 81, doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/765/2/81.
    ApJ ADS arXiv
    News Release University News

  23. Russell, A. J. B. and Wright, A. N. (2012),
    "Magnetosphere-ionosphere waves,"
    J. Geophys. Res., 117, A01202, doi: 10.1029/2011JA016950.

  24. Hudson, H. S., Fletcher, L., Fisher, G. H., Abbett, W. P. and Russell, A. (2012),
    "Momentum distribution in solar flare processes,"
    Solar Physics, 277, 77, doi: 10.1007/s11207-011-9836-0.
    Solar Physics ADS

  25. Russell, A. J. B., Wright, A. N. and Hood, A. W. (2010),
    "Self-consistent ionospheric plasma density modifications by field-aligned currents: Steady state solutions,"
    J. Geophys. Res., 115, A04216, doi: 10.1029/2009JA014836.

  26. Russell, A. J. B. and Wright, A. N. (2010),
    "Resonant absorption with 2D variation of field line eigenfrequencies,"
    Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 517, A17, doi: 10.1029/2009JA014836.
    A&A ADS

  27. Canfield, R. C. and Russell, A. J. B. (2007),
    "Solar active region flux fragmentation, subphotospheric flows, and flaring,"
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 662, Issue 1, pp. L39-L42, doi: 10.1086/519215.
    ApJL ADS ePrint

Public Engagement

I really enjoy opportunities to discuss my research with non-specialists and to share my enthusiasm for space, science and mathematics. My experience in this area includes talks to amateur astronomical and scientific societies, plantetarium shows, observing sessions with small telescopes, school visits, science festivals, science centre events, science-themed stand-up comedy and work with journalists.