The Payne-Gaposchkin medal and prize

Professor Valery Nakariakov, University of Warwick, for his leadership and major contribution to the discovery of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) activity of the solar corona, which led to transformative changes in our understanding of the solar atmosphere, and to the creation and successful implementation of a new branch of solar physics, MHD coronal seismology.

Professor Valery Nakariakov

Valery Nakariakov is a brilliant solar physicist, a truly exceptional scientist who has revolutionised our understanding of the Sun. The theory and observation of MHD waves on the Sun is a major new field in solar physics, which Nakariakov has pioneered and in which he is the pre-eminent scientist in the UK, arguably in the world. He has shown great skill, insight and creativity in developing the topic of MHD seismology. MHD seismology seeks to use the properties of observed oscillations to deduce the physical properties of a plasma, such as the magnetic field strength or the effective resistivity, which are otherwise very difficult to estimate. This is crucial both in laboratory plasmas and also in the solar corona, where recent new satellite observations have presented a major challenge to solar theorists. It is to his credit that he has taken up the challenge and produced a series of fundamental papers that have laid the groundwork for current and future understanding.

Nakariakov’s many achievements include: observational discovery of transverse oscillations of coronal plasma loops; theoretical prediction and subsequent discovery of sausage oscillations in flaring loops; determination of the energy transfer channels in the solar atmosphere; discovery of quasi-periodic pulsations in solar gamma-ray emission, and the first seismological estimation of the coronal magnetic field absolute value.