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Convective intensification of magnetic fields in the quiet Sun

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Paul BushbyORCiD



Kilogauss-strength magnetic fields are often observed in intergranular lanes at the photosphere in the quiet Sun. Such fields are stronger than the equipartition field B-e, corresponding to a magnetic energy density that matches the kinetic energy density of photospheric convection, and comparable with the field B-p that exerts a magnetic pressure equal to the ambient gas pressure. We present an idealized numerical model of three-dimensional compressible magnetoconvection at the photosphere, for a range of values of the magnetic Reynolds number. In the absence of a magnetic field, the convection is highly supercritical and characterized by a pattern of vigorous, time-dependent, 'granular' motions. When a weak magnetic field is imposed upon the convection, magnetic flux is swept into the convective downflows where it forms localized concentrations. Unless this process is significantly inhibited by magnetic diffusion, the resulting fields are often much greater than B-e and the high magnetic pressure in these flux elements leads to their being partially evacuated. Some of these flux elements contains ultraintense magnetic fields that are significantly greater than B-p. Such fields are contained by a combination of the thermal pressure of the gas and the dynamic pressure of the convective motion, and they are constantly evolving. These ultraintense fields develop owing to non-linear interactions between magnetic fields and convection; they cannot be explained in terms of 'convective collapse' within a thin flux tube that remains in overall pressure equilibrium with its surroundings.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bushby PJ, Houghton SM, Proctor MRE, Weiss NO

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Year: 2008

Volume: 387

Issue: 2

Pages: 698-706

Date deposited: 06/01/2012

ISSN (print): 0035-8711

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2966

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13276.x


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