The Evolution of the Sun's Open Magnetic Flux - I. A Single Bipole

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In this paper the origin and evolution of the Sun's open magnetic flux are considered for single magnetic bipoles as they are transported across the Sun. The effects of magnetic flux transport on the radial field at the surface of the Sun are modeled numerically by developing earlier work by Wang, Sheeley, and Lean (2000). The paper considers how the initial tilt of the bipole axis (alpha) and its latitude of emergence affect the variation and magnitude of the surface and open magnetic flux. The amount of open magnetic flux is estimated by constructing potential coronal fields. It is found that the open flux may evolve independently from the surface field for certain ranges of the tilt angle. For a given tilt angle, the lower the latitude of emergence, the higher the magnitude of the surface and open flux at the end of the simulation. In addition, three types of behavior are found for the open flux depending on the initial tilt angle of the bipole axis. When the tilt is such that alpha greater than or equal to 2degrees the open flux is independent of the surface flux and initially increases before decaying away. In contrast, for tilt angles in the range -16degrees < &alpha; < 2degrees the open flux follows the surface flux and continually decays. Finally, for alpha less than or equal to -16degrees the open flux first decays and then increases in magnitude towards a second maximum before decaying away. This behavior of the open flux can be explained in terms of two competing effects produced by differential rotation. Firstly, differential rotation may increase or decrease the open flux by rotating the centers of each polarity of the bipole at different rates when the axis has tilt. Secondly, it decreases the open flux by increasing the length of the polarity inversion line where flux cancellation occurs. The results suggest that, in order to reproduce a realistic model of the Sun's open magnetic flux over a solar cycle, it is important to have accurate input data on the latitude of emergence of bipoles along with the variation of their tilt angles as the cycle progresses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)p.291-308
Number of pages18
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002


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