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Turbulent magnet ic fields in the Sun

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Nigel Weiss recounts his Presidential Address 2001, given to the RAS A&G Ordinary Meeting on 9 February 2001.

Recent high-resolution observations, from the ground and from space, have revealed the fine structure of magnetic features at the surface of the Sun. At the same time, advances in computing power have at last made it possible to develop models of turbulent magnetoconvection that can be related to these observations. The key features of flux emergence and annihilation, as observed by the MDI experiment on SOHO, are reproduced in kinematic calculations, while three-dimensional numerical experiments reveal the dynamical processes that are involved. The pattern of convection depends on the strength of the magnetic field: as the mean field decreases, slender rising plumes give way to a regime where magnetic flux is separated from the motion and then to one where locally intense magnetic fields nestle between broad and vigorously convecting plumes. Moreover, turbulent convection is itself able to act as a small-scale dynamo, generating disordered fields near the solar surface.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-06-01

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