Gordon MacDonald » Graduate Students

Gordon MacDonald

Graduate Student NMSUAstronomy

Photo of Gordon MacDonald

Biographical Info


I received my B.S. degree in physics and astronomy in 2009, and my M. S. degree in 2012, from the California State University in Northridge.

I worked on several topics in solar physics while at CSU Northridge. I began by developing an algorithm to recognize and track Moving Magnetic Features (MMFs) in the penumbrae of sunspots, to determine the time evolution of the magnetic field and the size and longitudinal speed of the MMF. This work supports the hypothesis that the locations of narrow channels of alternate magnetic fields within active regions are sites of solar flares. I also worked on a project to probe the sub-surface structure of sixteen sunspots, by analyzing G-band bright points in the penumbrae with high spatial resolution data from the Hinode Solar Optical Telescope.

During the summer of 2010 I worked at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), studying the effect of magnetized as on three- and five-minute oscillations in the photosphere near an active region.

For my M. S. thesis project, I worked with the Sunrise team at the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Lindau, Germany. I studied short-lived Enhanced Up-Flow events observed in the convective motions of granules with the IMaX instrument aboard the Sunrise balloon-borne observatory. This observational work confirmed results which to date had been produced only in numerical simulations.

My current interests include coronal models, solar winds, and mass ejections. I am beginning a collaborative study with scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base with the aim of refining and improving data drivers for the WSA and ADAPT models.

My dream is that one day I will be able to supply the world with Weekly Space Weather Forecasts as good as the best produced for surface weather on the evening news, building on the success of NASA’s STEREO and SDO missions.


Enhanced Up-Flows Observed on the Solar Granules (M.S. Thesis)
Gordon A. MacDonald 2012, California State Univerisity, Northridge Scholarworks

Fast Up-flows Observed on Granules with Sunrise
Gordon A. Macdonald, J. Hirzberger, S. Solanki, & D. P. Choudhary 2011, AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, B1985.

Structure of Sunspots Observed with Hinode Solar Optical Telescope
D. P. Choudhary, Gordon A. Macdonald, D. Neng, & S. Toshifumi 2011, IAU Symposium, 273, 478.

Studies of Waves in Sunspots Using Spectropolarimetric Observations
Gordon A. Macdonald & S. P. Rajaguru 2011, IAU Symposium, 273, 361.

Velocity and Magnetic Structure of Sunspot Umbral Dots
D. P. Choudhary, Gordon A. Macdonald, N. Deng, & T. Shimizu 2010, BAAS, 41, 401.11.

Flows at Umbral Dots
D. P. Choudhary, Gordon A. Macdonald, S. Toshifumi, & D. Neng 2010, 38th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, 38, 2932.

Meetings Attended

  • Meeting 1
  • Meeting 2
Teaching and Outreach Activities