Magnetic helicity of self-similar axisymmetric force-free fields

AMS Citation:
Zhang, M., N. Flyer, and B. C. Low, 2012: Magnetic helicity of self-similar axisymmetric force-free fields. The Astrophysical Journal, 755, 9 pp, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/755/1/78.
Date:2012-08-10
Resource Type:article
Title:Magnetic helicity of self-similar axisymmetric force-free fields
Abstract: In this paper, we continue our theoretical studies addressing the possible consequences of magnetic helicity accumulation in the solar corona. Our previous studies suggest that coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are natural products of coronal evolution as a consequence of magnetic helicity accumulation and that the triggering of CMEs by surface processes such as flux emergence also have their origin in magnetic helicity accumulation. Here, we use the same mathematical approach to study the magnetic helicity of axisymmetric power-law force-free fields but focus on a family whose surface flux distributions are defined by self-similar force-free fields. The semi-analytical solutions of the axisymmetric self-similar force-free fields enable us to discuss the properties of force-free fields possessing a huge amount of accumulated magnetic helicity. Our study suggests that there may be an absolute upper bound on the total magnetic helicity of all bipolar axisymmetric force-free fields. With the increase of accumulated magnetic helicity, the force-free field approaches being fully opened up with Parker-spiral-like structures present around a current-sheet layer as evidence of magnetic helicity in the interplanetary space. It is also found that among the axisymmetric force-free fields having the same boundary flux distribution, the one that is self-similar is the one possessing the maximum amount of total magnetic helicity. This gives a possible physical reason why self-similar fields are often found in astrophysical bodies, where magnetic helicity accumulation is presumably also taking place.
Subject(s):Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), Sun magnetic topology, Sun coronal mass ejections, Sun corona
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:An edited version of this article was published by the Institute of Physics on behalf of the American Astronomical Society. Copyright 2012 the American Astronomical Society.
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d7fj2hhc
Publisher's Version: 10.1088/0004-637X/755/1/78
Author(s):
  • Mei Zhang
  • Natasha Flyer - NCAR/UCAR
  • Boon Low - NCAR/UCAR
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