Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program



Matthew Deady

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The sun radiates a broad spectrum of energy and elements within the sun absorb and emit energy at very specific wavelengths as the electrons in the element are excited. Knowledge of the properties of different elements and the spectral or absorption lines they form within the electromagnetic radiation spectrum allows for studies of spectral lines that appear when looking at the radiation spectrum of the sun, thereby allowing one to identify elements in the sun. It is known that the sun exhibits an eleven-year solar cycle that corresponds to a change in the number of sunspots and magnetic activity on the sun. Known changes in the spectral lines induced by magnetic field effects give insight into the magnetic structure of the sun. For this project, I first learned about the atomic properties that cause the formation of absorption lines. I was then able to identify the presence of elemental Calcium in the sun by the presence of a calcium absorption line at 3934 Angstroms. I monitored the intensity and width of this absorption line over five years (i.e. less than one solar cycle), in order to monitor the effects of changing solar magnetic activity on the absorption line, thereby lending insight to magnetic fluctuations within the sun. I identified the properties of the Ca II K line, such as the intensity of the line that are correlated with the solar cycle. This study was conducted alongside intense research to better my understanding of what is known about the sun and how it works.

Distribution Options

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