Magnetic flux transport simulations : applications to solar and stellar magnetic fields
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Magnetic fields play a key role in a wide variety of phenomena found on the Sun. One such phenomena is the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) where a large amount of material is ejected from the Sun. CME’s may directly affect the earth, therefore understanding their origin is of key importance for space weather and the near-Earth environment. In this thesis, the nature and evolution of solar magnetic fields is considered through a combination of Magnetic Flux Transport Simulations and Potential Field Source Surface Models. The Magnetic Flux Transport Simulations produce a realistic description of the evolution and distribution of the radial magnetic field at the level of the solar photosphere. This is then applied as a lower boundary condition for the Potential Field Source Surface Models which prescribe a coronal magnetic field. Using these two techniques, the location and variation of coronal null points, a key element in the Magnetic Breakout Model of CMEs, are determined. Results show that the number of coronal null points follow a cyclic variation in phase with the solar cycle. In addition, they preferentially form at lower latitudes as a result of the complex active latitude field. Although a significant number of coronal nulls may exist at any one time (≈ 17), it is shown that only half may satisfy the necessary condition for breakout. From this it is concluded that while the Magnetic Breakout Model of CMEs is an important model in understanding the origin of the CMEs, other processes must occur in order to explain the observed number of CMEs. Finally, the Magnetic Flux Transport Simulations are applied to stellar magnetic fields and in particular to the fast rotating star HD171488. From this speculative study it is shown that the Magnetic Flux Transport Simulations constructed for the Sun may be applied in very different stellar circumstances and that for HD171488 a significantly higher rate of meridional flow (1200-1400 ms⁻¹) is required to match observed magnetic field distributions.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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