Boon Chye Low

BC Low
Visiting Retired Senior Scientist

Dr. Boon Chye Low joined HAO in 1981 and retired as Senior Scientist in 2014. His research centered on the corona & solar wind and their coupling to the solar lower-atmosphere and interior. The study of the Sun and related astrophysical systems is as much about insightful observational discoveries as it is about the basic physical processes in terms of which the observed phenomena are to be explained. The works of Dr. Low and his collaborators are fundamental for understanding the astrophysics of ideal and near ideal hydromagnetic fluids.

Dr. Low returned as a Visiting Scientist in 2017 to write the article Coronal Magnetism as a Universal Phenomenon, Chapter 6, The Sun as a Guide to Stellar Physics, edited by O. Engvold, J.-C. Vial & A. Skumanich, Elsevier, 2019.

Dr. Low’s article constructed an understanding of the corona as a fully ionized hydromagnetic atmosphere. The rich diversity of observed phenomena may be related physically to (a) the  ubiquitous heating of the million-degree hot corona by electric-current sheets, (b) the dynamical necessity of the solar wind filling all interplanetary space, (c) the global reversals of the magnetic field from the corona out into the solar wind in concert with the sunspot cycles, (d) the three closely associated, high-energy coronal events of solar flares, prominence eruptions, and large-scale Coronal Mass Ejections, and (d) the solar-cycle invariant preference for left and right-handed magnetic structures in the northern and southern solar hemispheres, respectively.  The possibility of constructing such a global view of the magnetic Sun is due to a mutual sufficiency between observations and theory for physically meaningful questions to be discovered and answered.  Since basic physical processes are universal, the perspective follows that the solar corona is a universal astrophysical phenomenon.  An instance of this universality is that the Galaxy may exhibit the same hemispherical preference of magnetic handedness, retrospectively pointed out by Dr. Low in his above article by inspecting the lowest even and odd modes of the Parker galactic dynamo (EN Parker 1971, The generation of magnetic fields in astrophysical bodies. II. The galactic field. Astrophys. J. 163, 255).

Dr. Low currently pursues his interests in two studies, one on rotating fluids and another on spontaneous current sheets.

Dr. Low’s most recent publication titled Topological Nature of the Parker Magnetostatic Theorem, Phys. Plasmas 30, 012903 (2023) is a contribution to the Phys. Plasmas Special Collection: Plasma Physics of the Sun in Honor of Eugene Parker.  Dr. Low’s contribution is featured in the American Institute of Physics Showcase presentation intended for non-specialist readers.

Dr. Low holds a Bachelor Degree in mathematics, King’s College, University of London, UK, and a Doctoral Degree in Physics, University of Chicago.