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Publications in VIVO

Ergun, Robert E



Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Prof. Robert Ergun specializes in space and astrophysical plasmas with applications to Earth's and Jupiter's magnetosphere, Mars' ionosphere, the solar wind, and supernova shells. He has developed or is currently developing space-flight electric field instruments for several NASA missions: the FAST satellite (auroral acceleration region), the Wind satellite (solar wind), the STEREO satellites (solar wind), the THEMIS satellites (Earth's magnetosphere), the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (Earth's radiation belts), the Magnetospheric Multi-Scale satellites (reconnection in Earth's magnetosphere), the MAVEN satellite (Mars atmospheric loss), and the Parker Solar Probe satellite (near-Sun solar wind). Theoretical programs focusing on small-scale plasma phenomena at Earth, Jupiter Mars, and the solar wind including simulation and analytical modeling of magnetic reconnection, electron phase-space holes, parallel electric fields carried by double layers, and turbulence.


  • Space Plasma Physics, Plasma Astrophysics


selected publications


courses taught

  • ASTR 1000 - The Solar System
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Introduction to the night sky, planets, moons and the life in our solar system. Highlights the latest discoveries from space. For non-science majors. Some lectures may be held at Fiske Planetarium. Offers opportunities for nighttime observations at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Similar to ASTR 1010, but without lab. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1010 or ASTR 1030.
  • ASTR 1030 - Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 1
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2022
    Covers principles of modern astronomy summarizing our present knowledge about the Earth, Sun, moon, planets and origin of life. Requires nighttime observation sessions at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Required in ASTR major/minor. Like ASTR 1000 and 1010, but taught at a higher intellectual level, including a significant amount of quantitative analysis. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1000 or ASTR 1010.
  • ASTR 1040 - Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 2
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Covers principles of modern astronomy summarizing our present knowledge about the Sun, stars, birth and death of stars, neutron stars, black holes, galaxies, quasars, and the organization and origins of the universe. May require nighttime observing sessions at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Required in ASTR major/minor. Includes a recitation. Taught at a higher intellectual level including a significant amount of quantitative analysis. Same as ASTR 1020 and ASTR 1200.
  • ASTR 3760 - Solar and Space Physics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2021
    Explores the physical processes linking the Sun and planets, emphasizing solar radiative and particulate variability and the response of planetary atmospheres and magnetospheres. Topics include the solar dynamo, solar wind, coronal mass ejections, cosmic ray modulation, magnetospheres, aurora, the space environment, and climate variability. Recommended prerequisite: PHYS 3310. Elective for APS major and minor.
  • ASTR 5140 - Astrophysical and Space Plasmas
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Fall 2021 / Fall 2023
    Teaches magnetohydrodynamics and a few related areas of plasma physics applied to space and astrophysical systems, including planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, stars, and interstellar gas in galaxies. Same as PHYS 5141.
  • ASTR 5300 - Introduction to Magnetospheres
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Introduces solar and stellar winds, and planetary and stellar magnetospheres. Acquaints students with the guiding center theory for particle motion, magnetospheric topology, convection, radiation belts, magnetic storms and substorms, and auroras.
  • ASTR 5550 - Observations, Data Analysis and Statistics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2024
    Introduces multi-wavelength observational techniques,their limitations and effects of various noise sources. Describes basic data handling, error analysis, and statistical tests relevant to modeling. Topics include probability distributions, model-fitting algorithms, confidence intervals, correlations, sampling and convolution. Students derive physical measurements and uncertainties with hands-on analysis of real datasets. Department enforced prerequisite: senior level undergraduate physics or instructor consent will be required.


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