Topological configurations of coronal magnetic fields and current sheets
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The question of topology in the coronal magnetic field is addressed in this thesis. Magnetic reconnection, which plays a major role in many of the fascinating phenomena seen in the solar atmosphere, is likely to occur at the boundaries between different topological regions of the magnetic field. By modelling the coronal field using discrete sources of flux, to represent the concentrations seen at the photospheric surface, we study the varying topological structures present in the field. We generate a criterion for determining the presence of null points above the photospheric surface and establish that any separatrix surfaces present in the field are due to the presence of either null points, or regions where the field tangentially grazes the surface. We follow the evolution of these separatrix surfaces and, in particular, determine the existence of a well-defined separator field line in the absence of coronal null points. Finally, we look locally at the configuration of the magnetic field in the region surrounding a straight current sheet. We derive an analytical expression to describe the topology of both potential and constant-current force-free fields in the neighbourhood of a sheet, and in so doing generalise the previously known expressions.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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