Solar Cycle Variations of Coronal Null Points: Implications for the Magnetic Breakout Model of Coronal Mass Ejections

Graeme Robert Cook, Duncan Hendry Mackay, D Nandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the solar cycle variation of coronal null points and magnetic breakout configurations in spherical geometry, using a combination of magnetic flux transport and potential field source surface models. Within the simulations, a total of 2843 coronal null points and breakout configurations are found over two solar cycles. It is found that the number of coronal nulls present at any time varies cyclically throughout the solar cycle, in phase with the flux emergence rate. At cycle maximum, peak values of 15-17 coronal nulls per day are found. No significant variation in the number of nulls is found from the rising to the declining phase. This indicates that the magnetic breakout model is applicable throughout both phases of the solar cycle. In addition, it is shown that when the simulations are used to construct synoptic data sets, such as those produced by Kitt Peak, the number of coronal nulls drops by a factor of 1/6. The vast majority of the coronal nulls are found to lie above the active latitudes and are the result of the complex nature of the underlying active region fields. Only 8% of the coronal nulls are found to be connected to the global dipole. Another interesting feature is that 18% of coronal nulls are found to lie above the equator due to cross-equatorial interactions between bipoles lying in the northern and southern hemispheres. As the majority of coronal nulls form above active latitudes, their average radial extent is found to be in the low corona below 1.25 R ☉ (175, 000 km above the photosphere). Through considering the underlying photospheric flux, it is found that 71% of coronal nulls are produced though quadrupolar flux distributions resulting from bipoles in the same hemisphere interacting. When the number of coronal nulls present in each rotation is compared to the number of bipoles emerging, a wide scatter is found. The ratio of coronal nulls to emerging bipoles is found to be approximately 1/3. Overall, the spatio-temporal evolution of coronal nulls is found to follow the typical solar butterfly diagram and is in qualitative agreement with the observed time dependence of coronal mass ejection source-region locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1021-1035
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume704
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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