A method for finding three-dimensional magnetic skeletons

Andrew Lewis Haynes, Clare Elizabeth Parnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetic fields are an essential component of a plasma. In many astrophysical, solar, magnetospheric, and laboratory situations the magnetic field in the plasma can be very dynamic and form highly complex structures. One approach to unraveling these structures is to determine the magnetic skeleton of the field, a set of topological features that divide the magnetic field into topologically distinct domains. In general, the features of the magnetic skeleton are difficult to locate, in particular those given by numerical experiments. In this paper, we propose a new set of tools to find the skeleton of general magnetic fields including null points, spines, separatrix surfaces, and separators. This set of tools is found to be considerably better at finding the skeleton than the currently favored methods used in magnetohydrodynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number092903
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2010


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