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Shear-Induced Opening of the Coronal Magnetic Field

R. Wolfson
Journal / Anthology

Astrophysical Journal
Year: 1995
Volume: 443
Page range: 810-817

This work describes the evolution of a model solar corona in response to motions of the footpoints of its magnetic field. The mathematics involved is semianalytic, with the only numerical solution being that of an ordinary differential equation. This approach, while lacking the flexibility and physical details of full MHD simulations, allows for very rapid computation along with complete and rigorous exploration of the model's implications. We find that the model coronal field bulges upward, at first slowly and then more dramatically, in response to footpoint displacements. The energy in the field rises monotonically from that of the initial potential state, and the field configuration and energy approach asymptotically that of a fully open field. Concurrently, electric currents develop and concentrate into a current sheet as the limiting case of the open field is approached. Examination of the equations show rigorously that in the asymptotic limit of the fully open field, the current layer becomes a true ideal MHD singularity.

*Science > Astronomy