Modelling the sun's small scale global photospheric magnetic field

Karen A. Meyer, D. H. Mackay

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We present a new model for the Sun's global photospheric magnetic field during a deep minimum of activity, in which no active regions emerge. The emergence and subsequent evolution of small- scale magnetic features across the full solar surface is simulated, subject to the influence of a global supergranular flow pattern. Visually, the resulting simulated magnetograms reproduce the typical structure and scale observed in quiet Sun magnetograms. Quantitatively, the simulation quickly reaches a steady state, resulting in a mean field and flux distribution that are in good agreement with those determined from observations. A potential coronal magnetic field is extrapolated from the simulated full Sun magnetograms, to consider the implications of such a quiet photospheric magnetic field on the corona and inner heliosphere. The bulk of the coronal magnetic field closes very low down, in short connections between small-scale features in the simulated magnetic network. Just 0.1% of the photospheric magnetic flux is found to be open at 2:5 Rʘ, around 10 - 100 times less than that determined for typical HMI synoptic map observations. If such conditions were to exist on the Sun, this would lead to a significantly weaker interplanetary magnetic field than is presently observed, and hence a much higher cosmic ray flux at Earth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number160
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date19 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2016


  • Sun: photosphere
  • Sun: magnetic fields


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