Professor Dame Carole Jordan

Emeritus Fellow

Carole Jordan’s career has centred on the use of x-ray and UV spectra as plasma diagnostics.

She was a pioneer of the calculations required to determine the relative number densities of elements in different stages of ionization. As her career progressed she became heavily involved with observations of stellar spectra, especially ones obtained from space platforms such as the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Throughout her career she worked on the interpretation of solar spectra. In both solar and stellar areas, she was the first to identify the atomic or molecular origins of many emission lines, including molecular fluorescence in cool giants that has revealed the inhomogeneous structure of their chromospheres.

Later, she transferred her solar techniques to the analysis of the spectra of cool stars.

The broadening of emission lines in both dwarf and giant stars exceeds that expected from the local kinetic temperature. In dwarf stars she has interpreted this broadening as being associated with the passage of magnetohydrodynamic waves through the outer atmosphere, which go on to heat the corona. Such waves can originate from magnetic field motions, or through magnetic reconnection, at low levels of the outer atmosphere. 

To test proposed theories she has developed techniques to determine from spectra the temperature of the plasma as a function of height and has applied these to the Sun and many cool stars. She has an international reputation as an authority on the coronae of the Sun and cool stars. 

Throughout her career Carole has been active in the research community. She has been an editor of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Solar Physics, and The Observatory.

She was a member of the Councils of both SERC and PPARC, and under SERC, Chair of the Solar System Committee. She has served twice on the Council of the IOP and was its first Vice-President, Science. She was a Secretary and then the first female President of the Royal Astronomical Society. 

She is valued for her hard work and forthright, no-nonsense approach to people and problems, her honesty, and her total commitment to science.

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