Comparison of methods for modelling coronal magnetic fields

E. E. Goldstraw*, A. W. Hood, P. K. Browning, P. J. Cargill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. Four different approximate approaches used to model the stressing of coronal magnetic fields due to an imposed photospheric motion are compared with each other and the results from a full time-dependent magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) code. The assumptions used for each of the approximate methods are tested by considering large photospheric footpoint displacements.

Methods. We consider a simple model problem, comparing the full nonlinear magnetohydrodynamic evolution, determined with the Lare2D numerical code, with four approximate approaches. Two of these,magneto-frictional relaxation and a quasi-1D Grad-Shafranov approach, assume sequences of equilibria, whilst the other two methods, a second-order linearisation of the MHD equations and Reduced MHD, are time-dependent.

Results. The relaxation method is very accurate compared to full MHD for force-free equilibria for all footpoint displacements but has significant errors when the plasma β0 is of order unity. The 1D approach gives an extremely accurate description of the equilibria away from the photospheric boundary layers, and agrees well with Lare2D for all parameter values tested. The linearised MHD equations correctly predict the existence of photospheric boundary layers that are present in the full MHD results. As soon as the footpoint displacement becomes a significant fraction of the loop length, the RMHD method fails to model the sequences of equilibria correctly. The full numerical solution is interesting in its own right, and care must be taken for low β0 plasmas if the viscosity is too high.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA48
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2018


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)


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