Coronal heating has been a myth for several decades. The temperature of solar atmosphere at the photo sphere is about only 5000 degrees. However, it reaches about 1 million degree in less than 20000 km above the photosphere. What physical processes are responsible for such a heating? My main research interest is the coronal heating and solar wind acceleration. For this purpose, multi-fluid solar wind modeling is the one of the key tools to understand physical processes in the corona and interplanetary space. One of my major scientific contributions is to find that oxygen ions are not only much faster than protons in the inner corona, and they have a large temperature anisotropy as well. This discovery greatly changes our view of the coronal heating and solar wind acceleration mechanism. Now the preferential acceleration of minor ions in the solar wind is now a well-known fact, even though it is quite counterintuitive. Special attention is paid to the role of ion cyclotron resonance and electromagnetic instabilities in regulating the acceleration and thermal anisotropies of the solar wind ions. I developed a 16-moment solar wind model to study the anisotropy of protons in the fast solar wind.
I am also interested in the broad space plasma physics, such as propagation of plasma waves, plasma instabilities.
We are actively working on the thermal equilibrium of transition region ions and characteristics of the spectral lines of those species. An improved understanding of these ions may be a key for us to unlock the secrets of the corona heating myth.
Dr. Xing Li was born in the People's Republic of China. He was educated in the University of Science and Technology of China at Hefei and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He got his bachelor's and master's degrees of science in plasma physics. His PhD thesis was about the property of minor ions in the fast solar wind. After he completed his PhD study he worked in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a post doctoral fellow and developed solar wind models (wind driven by turbulence-driven ion-cyclotron waves and 16 moment models).
In March 2001, he was appointed as a lecturer in the physics department. His research interests are the coronal and solar wind physics, various plasma waves and instabilities in space plasma and the corona, and multi-fluid and MHD modeling of the corona and wind. A long standing interest is the heating and acceleration mechanisms of the solar wind. His current research interests are space plasma turbulence at very small scales where energy dissipation of turbulent fluctuations and particle heating are possible.