Solar Physics Division Meeting 2000, June 19-22
Session 1. Helioseismology, Magnetic Fields, Chromosphere and Transition Region
Display, Chair: C. U. Keller, Monday-Thursday, June 19, 2000, 8:00am-6:00pm, Forum Ballroom

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[1.49] Magnetic Energy Relaxation by Null-Point Reconnection

S. K. Antiochos, J. T. Karpen, C. R. DeVore (NRL)

We derive the minimum energy state resulting from complete magnetic reconnection in a 2.5D MHD system, in the limit of low plasma beta and high magnetic Reynold's number --- appropriate, in particular, to the solar corona. The results are useful for determining the amount of energy that can be liberated by reconnection and, hence, are important for understanding coronal heating and other forms of solar activity. The key difference between our approach and previous work is that reconnection is assumed to occur only at magnetic null points initially present in the system. We find that the minimum energy state is not the usual linear force-free field, but a state in which magnetic stress is distributed uniformly on equal flux surfaces. Our results are especially important for physical systems such as the solar corona in which the field is line-tied at the high-beta photosphere and the volume of the system is infinite, but the results are also valid for general configurations with flux surfaces as boundaries. We discuss the implications of this work for the Sun's corona and for laboratory plasmas.

This work was funded in part by ONR and NASA.

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