On the topology of global coronal magnetic fields
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This thesis considers the magnetic topology of the global solar corona. To understand the magnetic topology we use the magnetic skeleton which provides us with a robust description of the magnetic field. To do this we use a Potential Field model extrapolated from observations of the photospheric magnetic field. Various measurements of the photospheric magnetic field are used from both ground-based observatories (Kitt-Peak and SOLIS) and space-based observatories (MDI and HMI). Using the magnetic skeleton we characterise particular topological structures and discuss their variations throughout the solar cycle. We find that, from the topology, there are two types of solar minimum magnetic field and one type of solar maximum. The global structure of the coronal magnetic field depends on the relative strengths of the polar fields and the low-latitude fields. During a strong solar dipole minimum the heliospheric current sheet sits near the equator and the heliospheric current sheet curtains enclose a large amount of mixed polarity field which is associated with many low-altitude null points. In a weak solar dipole minimum the heliospheric current sheet becomes warped and large scale topological features can form that are associated with weak magnetic field regions. At solar maximum the heliospheric current sheet is highly warped and there are more null points at high altitudes than at solar minimum. The number of null points in a magnetic field can be seen as a measure of the complexity of the field so this is investigated. We find that the number of nulls above 10Mm falls off with height as a power law whose slope depends on the phase of the solar cycle. We compare the magnetic topology we found at particular times with observations of the Doppler velocity and intensity around particular active regions to see if it is possible to determine whether plasma upflows at the edge of active regions are linked to open field regions.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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