Energetic consequences of flux emergence

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


When magnetic field in the solar convection zone buoyantly rises to pierce the visible solar surface (photosphere), the atmosphere (corona) above this surface must respond in some way. One response of the coronal field to photospheric forcing is the creation of stress in the magnetic field, generating large currents and storing magnetic free energy. Using a topological model of the coronal magnetic field we will quantify this free energy. We find the free energy just prior to major flares in active regions to be between 30% and 50% of the potential field energy. In a second way, the coronal field may topologically restructure to form new magnetic connections with newly emerged fields. We use our topological model to quantify the rapid restructuring in the case of solar flare and coronal mass ejections, finding that between 1% and 10% of total active region flux is exchanged. Finally, we use observational data to quantify the slow, quiescent reconnection with preexisting field, and find that for small active regions between 20% and 40% of the total emerged flux may have reconnected at any given time.




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