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Research on the dynamical interaction between plasmas and magnetic fields
Centre for mathematical Plasma-Astrophysics @ KU Leuven

Important research topics at CmPA are

  • Solar physics and Space Weather

  • Magnetohydrodynamics, kinetic theory and plasma-astrophysical processes

This division of the Mathematics department has developed unique expertise in all aspects of plasma-physical modeling. Its research ranges from advanced analytic theory to the development, use and exploitation of state-of-the-art computational tools to simulate realistic solar, astrophysical or fundamental plasma physics scenarios. The sun, the Earth's magnetosphere, and the heliosphere are regarded as showcases for plasma behaviour in other astrophysical objects, where simulations need to match up with actual data.

Computational study

Computational tools simulate realistic solar, astrophysical, or even laboratory plasma physics scenarios, and are essential for our research.

The CmPA has developed several state-of-the-art software packages for plasma dynamical modeling, optimally suited for modern high performance computing, massively parallel platforms. They include MPI-AMRVAC (a parallel software tool for grid-adaptive magnetohydrodynamic simulations up to relativistic regimes), several state-of-the-art kinetic plasma codes based on Particle-in-Cell methodologies (iPIC3D, Celeste, Parsek, Democritus), and FLIP-MHD (a Lagrangian-Eulerian MHD solver).

Help of VSC

Our software has been used on High Performance Computing platforms ranging from Tier-2 to Tier-0, in both local VSC-managed projects, as well as in early HPC-Europe, DECI and currently PRACE funded supercomputing projects. Access to the VSC Tier-2 and Tier-1 platforms has allowed to prepare for ever more ambitious solar physics computations, to the extent that we now achieve resolutions better than those probed by modern satellite observations, and this helps to prepare for future mission concepts. The VSC offers training on HPC related aspects, which has benefitted several generations of starting PhD and postdocs in our division.

Home page of CmPA

References and captions to figures


  • A simulation of a boiling prominence, a region of cooler and denser plasma within the million degree hot solar corona. Figure from `Solar prominences: "double, double ... boil and bubble"', R. Keppens, X. Cia, & O. Porth, 2015, ApJ Letters 806, L13 (7pp). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/806/1/L13

  • A virtual view in EUV wavelengths, on a pair of tilt-kink unstable magnetic fluxropes. This mimics violent dynamics seen in complex solar coronal loop systems. Taken from `Interacting tilt and kink instabilities in repelling current channels', R. Keppens, O. Porth, & C. Xia, 2014, ApJ 795, 77 (10pp). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/795/1/77

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