In the ideal MHD description of the highly-conductive solar corona, magnetic flux is "frozen in" to the plasma. This fixes the field's topology, which constrains its evolution. Theoretical considerations (Longcope, 1996, Sol. Phys., v. 169, 91) support the belief that, in sufficiently complex fields, the equations of ideal MHD fail at well-defined topological boundaries, termed separators. This breakdown permits the exchange of magnetic flux across these boundaries, i.e., reconnection, and the subsequent release of energy previously stored in the more complicated field. Consequently, the topological structure of a given field can yield information about the locations and lengths of coronal x-ray loops. Accordingly, a bipolar sunspot distribution is modeled, both as a continuous magnetic field and as a superposition of individual flux elements. Separators are located, and statistical distributions of their lengths are found. Finally, coronal heating rates due to reconnection along individual separators are calculated.
AAS/Solar Physics Division Meeting #28
- Pub Date:
- May 1997