Aspects of solar coronal stability theory
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Solar coronal stability theory is a powerful tool for understanding the complex behaviour of the Sun's atmosphere. It enables one to discover the driving forces behind some intriguing phenomena and to gauge the soundness of theoretical models for observed structures. In this thesis, the linear stability analysis of line-tied symmetric magnetohydrostatic equilibria is studied within the framework of ideal MHD, aimed at its application to the solar corona. Firstly, a tractable stability procedure based on a variational method is devised. It provides a necessary condition for stability to disturbances localised about a particular flux surface, and a sufficient condition for stability to all accessible perturbations that vanish at the photosphere. The tests require the minimisation of a line integral along the magnetic field lines. For 1-D equilibria, this can be performed analytically, and simple stability criteria are obtained. The necessary condition then serves as an extended Suydam criterion, incorporating the stabilising effect of line-tying. For 2-D equilibria, the minimisation requires the integration of a system of ordinary differential equations along the field lines. This stability technique is applied to arcade, loop, and prominence models, yielding tight bounds on the equilibrium parameters. Secondly, global modes in 1-D coronal loops are investigated using a normal mode method, in order to clarify their link with localised interchange modes. For nearly force-free fields it is shown that instability to localised modes implies the existence of a fast growing global kink mode driven in the neighbourhood of the radius predicted by the local analysis. This confers a new significance on the study of localised interchange modes and the associated extended Suydam criterion.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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