IRSOL Istituto Ricerche Solari "Aldo e Cele Daccò" is the new name of the research institute in solar physics affiliated with USI Faculty of Informatics. The change was decided by the board of the Foundation Istituto Ricerche Solari Locarno (FIRSOL) at its meeting on 5 April 2022, to honour the memory of the benefactors Aldo and Cele Daccò, who decided to allocate to the Institute a generous bequest, which will contribute to the further development of its research activities.
These research activities are mainly focused on studying solar magnetism and its evolution. Solar magnetic activity directly impacts Earth through solar wind and magnetic storms. Besides creating spectacular polar auroras, the storms can generate significant disturbances to radio telecommunications and large-scale damages to space infrastructures and ground-based electricity distribution networks. The solar studies allow for improving the prediction of such events and help to mitigate their effects through the adoption of countermeasures. Solar activity is also an important contributor to the amount of energy radiated by the Sun and therefore is of interest to climate studies.
IRSOL research is based on the development of theoretical models, numerical simulations, instrumentation and observations. The latter uses high-precision instrumentation for polarization measurements and, in particular, the ZIMPOL polarimeter, which is developed and maintained in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI). The measurements are carried out at the Locarno observatory and in dedicated campaigns at Europe’s largest telescope GREGOR in collaboration with the Leibniz-Institut für Sonnenphysik (KIS). Based on this experience, IRSOL has contributed the polarimetric unit to the first-generation instrument VTF for the world-largest solar telescope DKIST (USA) and participates in the European Solar Telescope (EST) project, which aims to develop a next-generation European 4m-class solar telescope by a broad European consortium.
The IRSOL, recognised as a research facility of national importance, receives financial contributions from the Confederation, the Canton Ticino and the urban municipalities of Locarno. Several ongoing projects are financed by competitive funds such as the Swiss National Science Foundation and European Union funds.