Journal Article

Convective intensification of magnetic fields in the quiet Sun

P. J. Bushby, S. M. Houghton, M. R. E. Proctor and N. O. Weiss

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 2, pages 698-706
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Convective intensification of magnetic fields in the quiet Sun

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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 Be, corresponding to a magnetic energy density that matches the kinetic energy density of photospheric convection, and comparable with the field Bp 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 Be 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 Bp. 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.

Keywords: convection; MHD; Sun: granulation; Sun: magnetic fields; Sun: photosphere

Journal Article.  7181 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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