34th Solar Physics Division Meeting, June 2003
Session 1 Corona I
Oral, Monday, June 16, 2003, 9:00am-12:00noon, Auditorium

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[1.04] Force-Free Magnetic Flux Ropes in the Solar Corona

R. Wolfson (Middlebury College)

In the course of an ongoing investigation of force-free magnetic fields in the spherical geometry appropriate to the solar corona, we have found solutions that represent magnetic flux ropes. The magnetic energy stored in these ropes and the surrounding field is larger than that which can be stored in simple magnetic arcades with the same boundary conditions, and in some cases exceeds slightly the Aly-Sturrock limit on the energy of a closed force-free magnetic field with all its magnetic flux connected to the coronal base. Flux-rope solutions with the highest energies tend to arise when a strong potential field overlies a region of sheared field containing field-aligned currents. These flux-rope solutions have an unusual topology; instead of a single twisted, disconnected flux system, there are two distinct rope structures. A two-dimensional slice through each rope contains an O-type magnetic neutral point, and the overall solution therefore correspondingly contains two X-type neutral points. We speculate on the relation of this unusual topology to observations of magnetic clouds as interplanetary signatures of coronal mass ejections.

This work was supported by NASA grant NAG5-9733 to Middlebury College.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.