Comparison of Theory and Observations of the Chirality of Filaments within a Dispersing Activity Complex

Duncan Hendry Mackay, V Gaizauskas, AA van Ballegooijen

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We investigate the origin of the hemispheric pattern of filaments and filament channels by comparing theoretical predictions with observations of the chirality of filament channels within a dispersing activity complex. Our aim is to determine how the chirality of each specific channel arises so that general principles underlying the hemispheric pattern can be recognized. We simulate the field lines representing the filaments in the activity complex by applying a model of global flux transport to an initial magnetic configuration. The model combines the surface effects of differential rotation, meridional flows, and supergranular diffusion along with a magnetofrictional relaxation method in the overlying corona. The simulations are run with and without injecting axial magnetic fields at polarity inversion lines in the dispersing activity complex for four successive solar rotations. When the initial magnetic configuration, based on synoptic magnetic maps, is set to a potential field at the beginning of each rotation, the simulations poorly predict the chirality of the filament channels and filaments. The cases that predict the correct chirality correspond to an initial polarity inversion line, which is north-south; the wrong chirality arises when the initial polarity inversion lines lie east-west. Results improve when field-line connectivities at low latitudes are retained and allowed to propagate to higher latitudes without resetting the field to a potential configuration between each rotation. When axial flux emergence exceeding 1 x 10(19) Mr day(-1) is included at the location of each filament, an excellent agreement is obtained between the theory and observations. In additon to predicting the correct chirality in all cases, axial flux emergence allows more readily the production of inverse-polarity dipped field lines needed to support filamentary mass. An origin for the hemispheric pattern as a result of the combined effects of flux transport, axial flux emergence,, and magnetic helicity is then discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1122-1134
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2000


  • sun : activity
  • sun : filaments
  • sun : magnetic fields
  • SUN


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