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Leake J.E.,George Mason University | Linton M.G.,U.S. Navy | Torok T.,Predictive Science Inc.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We present results from three-dimensional visco-resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the emergence of a convection zone magnetic flux tube into a solar atmosphere containing a pre-existing dipole coronal field, which is orientated to minimize reconnection with the emerging field. We observe that the emergence process is capable of producing a coronal flux rope by the transfer of twist from the convection zone, as found in previous simulations. We find that this flux rope is stable, with no evidence of a fast rise, and that its ultimate height in the corona is determined by the strength of the pre-existing dipole field. We also find that although the electric currents in the initial convection zone flux tube are almost perfectly neutralized, the resultant coronal flux rope carries a significant net current. These results suggest that flux tube emergence is capable of creating non-current-neutralized stable flux ropes in the corona, tethered by overlying potential fields, a magnetic configuration that is believed to be the source of coronal mass ejections. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

Riley P.,Predictive Science Inc. | Luhmann J.G.,University of California at Berkeley
Solar Physics | Year: 2012

Unipolar streamers (also known as pseudo-streamers) are coronal structures that, at least in coronagraph images, and when viewed at the correct orientation, are often indistinguishable from dipolar (or "standard") streamers. When interpreted with the aid of a coronal magnetic field model, however, they are shown to consist of a pair of loop arcades. Whereas dipolar streamers separate coronal holes of the opposite polarity and whose cusp is the origin of the heliospheric current sheet, unipolar streamers separate coronal holes of the same polarity and are therefore not associated with a current sheet. In this study, we investigate the interplanetary signatures of unipolar streamers. Using a global MHD model of the solar corona driven by the observed photospheric magnetic field for Carrington rotation 2060, we map the ACE trajectory back to the Sun. The results suggest that ACE fortuitously traversed through a large and well-defined unipolar streamer. We also compare heliospheric model results at 1 AU with ACE in-situ measurements for Carrington rotation 2060. The results strongly suggest that the solar wind associated with unipolar streamers is slow. We also compare predictions using the original Wang-Sheeley (WS) empirically determined inverse relationship between solar wind speed and expansion factor. Because of the very low expansion factors associated with unipolar streamers, the WS model predicts high speeds, in disagreement with the observations. We discuss the implications of these results in terms of theories for the origin of the slow solar wind. Specifically, premises relying on the expansion factor of coronal flux tubes to modulate the properties of the plasma (and speed, in particular) must address the issue that while the coronal expansion factors are significantly different at dipolar and unipolar streamers, the properties of the measured solar wind are, at least qualitatively, very similar. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Antiochos S.K.,NASA | Mikic Z.,Predictive Science Inc. | Titov V.S.,Predictive Science Inc. | Lionello R.,Predictive Science Inc. | Linker J.A.,Predictive Science Inc.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2011

Models for the origin of the slow solar wind must account for two seemingly contradictory observations: the slow wind has the composition of the closed-field corona, implying that it originates from the continuous opening and closing of flux at the boundary between open and closed field. On the other hand, the slow wind also has large angular width, up to 60°, suggesting that its source extends far from the open-closed boundary. We propose a model that can explain both observations. The key idea is that the source of the slow wind at the Sun is a network of narrow (possibly singular) open-field corridors that map to a web of separatrices and quasi-separatrix layers in the heliosphere. We compute analytically the topology of an open-field corridor and show that it produces a quasi-separatrix layer in the heliosphere that extends to angles far from the heliospheric current sheet. We then use an MHD code and MDI/SOHO observations of the photospheric magnetic field to calculate numerically, with high spatial resolution, the quasi-steady solar wind, and magnetic field for a time period preceding the 2008 August 1 total solar eclipse. Our numerical results imply that, at least for this time period, a web of separatrices (which we term an S-web) forms with sufficient density and extent in the heliosphere to account for the observed properties of the slow wind. We discuss the implications of our S-web model for the structure and dynamics of the corona and heliosphere and propose further tests of the model. © 2011. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Mikic Z.,Predictive Science Inc. | Lionello R.,Predictive Science Inc. | Mok Y.,University of California at Irvine | Linker J.A.,Predictive Science Inc. | Winebarger A.R.,NASA
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

We systematically investigate the effects of geometrical assumptions in one-dimensional (1D) models of coronal loops. Many investigations of coronal loops have been based on restrictive assumptions, including symmetry in the loop shape and heating profile, and a uniform cross-sectional area. Starting with a solution for a symmetric uniform-area loop with uniform heating, we gradually relax these restrictive assumptions to consider the effects of nonuniform area, nonuniform heating, a nonsymmetric loop shape, and nonsymmetric heating, to show that the character of the solutions can change in important ways. We find that loops with nonuniform cross-sectional area are more likely to experience thermal nonequilibrium, and that they produce significantly enhanced coronal emission, compared with their uniform-area counterparts. We identify a process of incomplete condensation in loops experiencing thermal nonequilibrium during which the coronal parts of loops never fully cool to chromospheric temperatures. These solutions are characterized by persistent siphon flows. Their properties agree with observations (Lionello et al.) and may not suffer from the drawbacks that led Klimchuk et al. to conclude that thermal nonequilibrium is not consistent with observations. We show that our 1D results are qualitatively similar to those seen in a three-dimensional model of an active region. Our results suggest that thermal nonequilibrium may play an important role in the behavior of coronal loops, and that its dismissal by Klimchuk et al., whose model suffered from some of the restrictive assumptions we described, may have been premature. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Riley P.,Predictive Science Inc. | Richardson I.G.,NASA | Richardson I.G.,University of Maryland University College
Solar Physics | Year: 2013

In-situ measurements of interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) display a wide range of properties. A distinct subset, "magnetic clouds" (MCs), are readily identifiable by a smooth rotation in an enhanced magnetic field, together with an unusually low solar wind proton temperature. In this study, we analyze Ulysses spacecraft measurements to systematically investigate five possible explanations for why some ICMEs are observed to be MCs and others are not: i) An observational selection effect; that is, all ICMEs do in fact contain MCs, but the trajectory of the spacecraft through the ICME determines whether the MC is actually encountered; ii) interactions of an erupting flux rope (FR) with itself or between neighboring FRs, which produce complex structures in which the coherent magnetic structure has been destroyed; iii) an evolutionary process, such as relaxation to a low plasma-β state that leads to the formation of an MC; iv) the existence of two (or more) intrinsic initiation mechanisms, some of which produce MCs and some that do not; or v) MCs are just an easily identifiable limit in an otherwise continuous spectrum of structures. We apply quantitative statistical models to assess these ideas. In particular, we use the Akaike information criterion (AIC) to rank the candidate models and a Gaussian mixture model (GMM) to uncover any intrinsic clustering of the data. Using a logistic regression, we find that plasma-β, CME width, and the ratio O7/O6 are the most significant predictor variables for the presence of an MC. Moreover, the propensity for an event to be identified as an MC decreases with heliocentric distance. These results tend to refute ideas ii) and iii). GMM clustering analysis further identifies three distinct groups of ICMEs; two of which match (at the 86 % level) with events independently identified as MCs, and a third that matches with non-MCs (68 % overlap). Thus, idea v) is not supported. Choosing between ideas i) and iv) is more challenging, since they may effectively be indistinguishable from one another by a single in-situ spacecraft. We offer some suggestions on how future studies may address this. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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