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Michael Kirk

Research Assistant
Entered: 2008
Office: 101 Astronomy
Phone: (575)646-4438
Fax: (575)646-1602
 
E-mail: mskirk
(append "@nmsu.edu")
 
Photo
M.S.New Mexico State University,2011
B.A. Whitman College, 2006

Research

I graduated from Whitman College in 2006 with a degree in physics and astronomy. During my time at Whitman, I worked as a summer intern on a variety of research projects, including interstellar abundances. While living in Walla Walla, my interest in astronomy and in space also translated to flight training, and a pilot's license.

From the spring of 2007 through the fall of 2008, I worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center. With Dr. W. Dean Pesnell, I studied automated detection methods for solar polar coronal holes. This project developed techniques for using the solar limb for feature identification which traced the location of the Sun's outwardly directed polar magnetic field using a feature on the limb. I also spent some time investigating ways to calibrate solar images taken in the EUV but many years apart. Currently I am still working with polar holes, looking at the centroid locations and integrating ground-based images from the past 30 years.

Since beginning my graduate studies in August of 2008, I have been looking at Solar sequential chromospheric brightenings (SCBs). SCBs are noticed in conjunction with energetic events such as solar flares, prominence eruptions, and coronal mass ejections. Working at the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, NM, Dr. K.S. Balasubramaniam and I are developing an automated method for detecting and tracking SCBs and the associated flare ribbons within a series of H-alpha images from the ISOON telescope. With a bright-point detection and tracking fully automated, we hope to be able to efficiently identify and track both the evolution of the SCBs which are seen as precursors to the flare and the evolution of the ribbons within the flare itself.

I am very curious about the key processes which drive the solar dynamo and changes in the solar polarity over the solar cycle, and predictive measures for charting the future activity level of the Sun. I continue to be interested in image analysis techniques with an emphasis on automation. My advisor at NMSU is Dr. Jason Jackiewicz.

Refereed Publications

M. S. Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · R. T. J. McAteer · B. J. McNamara.: 2012,
Sequential Chomospheric Brightening: An Automated Approach to Extracting Physics from Ephemeral Brightening PASP, Submitted.

M. S. Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · R. T. J. McAteer · R. O. Milligan.: 2012,
Properties of Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings and Associated Flare Ribbons Astrophysical Journal, Submitted.

M. S. Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · B. J. McNamara · R. T. J. McAteer.: 2011,
An Automated Algorithm to Distinguish and Characterize Solar Flares and Associated Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings Solar Physics, 345.

M. S. Kirk · W. D. Pesnell · C. A. Young · S. A. Hess Webber.: 2009,
Automated Detection of EUV Polar Coronal Holes During Solar Cycle 23 Solar Physics, 257, 99.

Meetings

December 2010: American Geophysical Union meeting
Poster: Properties of Solar Flares and Associated Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings
Michael Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · B. J. McNamara

September 2010: Solar Image Processing Workshop V
Poster: Automated Characterization of Large Flares and Associated Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings
Michael Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · B. J. McNamara

January 2010: American Astronomical Society meeting
Poster: Understanding the Physics of Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings of the Sun Through Automated Recognition
Michael Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam · J. Jackiewicz · B. J. McNamara

December 2009: American Geophysical Union meeting
Poster: Automated Characterization of Sequential Chromospheric Brightenings
Michael Kirk · K. S. Balasubramaniam

June 2009: AAS Solar Physics Division meeting
Poster: Automated Detection of Polar Coronal Holes in the EUV
Michael Kirk · Dean Pesnell

March 2008: SDO Science Teams Meeting
Poster: Automatic Detection of Polar Coronal Holes in the EUV
Michael Kirk · Dean Pesnell

December 2007: American Geophysical Union meeting
Poster: Methods of Detecting Polar Coronal Holes in the EUV
Michael Kirk · Dean Pesnell

September 2007: NASA Living with a Star meeting
Poster: Getting Something From Nothing: Polar Coronal Holes in Cycles 22 and 23
Shea Hess Webber · Michael Kirk · Dean Pesnell









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