Understanding The Solar Magnetic Fields :Their Generation, Evolution And Variability
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The Sun, by the virtue of its proximity to Earth, serves as an excellent astrophysical laboratory for testing our theoretical ideas. The Sun displays a plethora of visually awe-inspiring phenomena including flares, prominences, sunspots, corona, CMEs and uncountable others. It is now known that it is the magnetic field of the Sun which governs all these and also the geomagnetic storms at the Earth, which owes its presence to the interaction between the geomagnetic field and the all-pervading Solar magnetic field in the interplanetary medium. Since the solar magnetic field affects the interplanetary space around the Earth in a profound manner, it is absolutely essential that we develop a comprehensive understanding of the generation and manifestation of magnetic fields of the Sun. This thesis aims at developing a state-of-the-art dynamo code SURYA1taking into account important results from helioseismology and magnetohydrodynamics. This dynamo code is then used to study various phenomenon associated with solar activity including evolution of solar parity, response to stochastic fluctuations, helicity of active regions and prediction of future solar cycles. Within last few years dynamo theorists seem to have reached a consensus on the basic characteristics of a solar dynamo model. The solar dynamo is now believed to be comprised of three basic processes: (i)The toroidal field is produced by stretching of poloidal field lines primarily inside the tachocline – the region of strong radial shear at the bottom of the convection zone. (ii) The toroidal field so formed rises to the surface due to magnetic buoyancy to form active regions. (iii) Poloidal field is generated at the surface due to decay of tilted active regions – an idea attributed to Babcock (1961) & Leighton (1969). The meridional circulation then carries the poloidal field produced near the surface to the tachocline. The profile of the solar differential rotation has now been mapped by helioseismology and so has been the poleward branch of meridional circulation near the surface. The model I describe in this thesis is a two-dimensional kinematic solar dynamo model in a full sphere. Our dynamo model Surya was developed over the years in stages by Prof. Arnab Rai Choudhuri, Dr. Mausumi Dikpati, Dr. Dibyendu Nandy and myself. We provide all the technical details of our model in Chap. 2 of this thesis. In this model we assume the equatorward branch of the meridional circulation (which hasn’t been observed yet), to penetrate slightly below the tachocline (Nandy & Choudhuri 2002, Science, 296, 1671). Such a meridional circulation plays an important role in suppressing the magnetic flux eruptions at high latitudes. The only non-linearity included in the model is the prescription of magnetic buoyancy. Our model is shown to reproduce various aspects of observational data, including the phase relation between sunspots and the weak, efficient. An important characteristic of our code is that it displays solar-like dipolar parity (anti-symmetric toroidal fields across equator) when certain reasonable conditions are satisfied, the most important condition being the requirement that the poloidal field should diffuse efficiently to get coupled across the equator. When the magnetic coupling between the hemispheres is enhanced by either increasing the diffusion or introducing an α ff distributed throughout the convection zone, we find that the solutions in the two hemispheres evolve together with a single period even when we make the meridional circulation or the α effect different in the two hemispheres. The effect of diffusive coupling in our model is investigated in Chap. 3. After having explored the regular behaviour of the solar cycle using the dynamo code we proceed to study the irregularities of the Solar cycle.We introduce stochastic fluctuations in the poloidal source term at the solar surface keeping the meridional circulation steady for all the numerical experiments. The dynamo displays oscillatory behaviour with variable cycle amplitudes in presence of fluctuations with amplitudes as large as 200%. We also find a statistically significant correlation between the strength of polar fields at the endofone cycle and the sunspot number of the next cycle. In contrast to this there exist a very poor correlation between the sunspot number of a cycle and the polar field formed at its end. This suggests that during the declining phase of the sunspot cycle poloidal field generation from decaying spots takes place via the Babcock-Leighton mechanism which involves randomness and destroys the correlation between sunspot number of a cycle and the polar at its end. In addition to this we also see that the time series of asymmetries in the sunspot activity follows the time series of asymmetries in the polar field strength with a lag of 5 years. We also compare our finding with available observational data. Although systematic measurements of the Sun’s polar magnetic field exist only from mid-1970s, other proxies can be used to infer the polar field at earlier times. The observational data indicate a strong correlation between the polar field at a sunspot minimum and the strength of the next cycle, although the strength of the cycle is not correlated well with the polar field produced at its end. We use these findings about the correlation of polar fields with sunspots to develop an elegant method for predicting future solar cycles. We feed observational data for polar fields during the minima of cycle n into our dynamo model and run the code till the next minima in order to simulate the sunspot number curve for cycle n+1. Our results fit the observed sunspot numbers of cycles 21-23 reasonably well and predict that cycle 24 will be about 30–35% weaker than cycle 23. We fit that the magnetic diffusivity in the model plays an important role in determining the magnetic memory of the Solar dynamo. For low diffusivity, the amplitude of a sunspot cycle appears to be a complex function of the history of the polar field of earlier cycles. Only if the magnetic diffusivity within the convection zone is assumed to be high (of order 1012cms−1), we are able to explain the correlation between the polar fiat a minimum and the next cycle. We give several independent arguments that the diffusivity must be of this order. In a dynamo model with diffusivity like this, the poloidal field generated at the mid-latitudes is advected toward the poles by the meridional circulation and simultaneously diffuses towards the tachocline, where the toroidal field for the next cycle is produced. The above ideas are put forward in Chap. 6. We next come to an important product of the dynamo process namely the magnetic helicity. It has been shown independently by many research groups that the mean value of the normalized current helicity αp= B (Δ×B)/B2in solar active regions is of the order of 10−8m−1, predominantly negative in the northern hemisphere, positive in the southern hemisphere. Choudhuri (2003, Sol. Phys., 215, 31)developed a model for production of the helicity of the required sign in a Babcock-Leighton Dynamo by wrapping of poloidal field lines around a fluxtube rising through the convection zone. In Chap. 7 we calculate helicities of solar active regions based on this idea. Rough estimates based on this idea compare favourably with the observed magnitude of helicity. We use our solar dynamo model to study how helicity varies with latitude and time. At the time of solar maximum, our theoretical model gives negative helicity in the northern hemisphere and positive helicity in the south, in accordance with observed hemispheric trends. However, we fit that during a short interval at the beginning of a cycle, helicities tend to be opposite of the preferred hemispheric trends. After calculating the sign and magnitude of helicity of the sunspots we worry about the distribution of helicity inside a sunspot. In Chap. 8 we model the penetration of a wrapped up background poloidal field into a toroidal magnetic flux tube rising through the solar convective zone. The rise of the straight, cylindrical flux tube is followed by numerically solving the induction equation in a comoving Lagrangian frame, while an external poloidal magnetic field is assumed to be radially advected onto the tube with a speed corresponding to the rise velocity. One prediction of our model is the existence of a ring of reverse current helicity on the periphery of active regions. On the other hand, the amplitude of the resulting twist depends sensitively on the assumed structure (ffvs. concentrated/intermittent) of the active region magnetic field right before its emergence, and on the assumed vertical profile of the poloidal field. Nevertheless, in the model with the most plausible choice of assumptions a mean twist comparable to the observational results. Our results indicate that the contribution of this mechanism to the twist can be quite find under favourable circumstances it can potentially account for most of the current helicity observed in active regions.
- Physics (PHY) 
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