EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 417, Number 1, April I 2004
Page(s) 333 - 340
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031776

A&A 417, 333-340 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031776

Magnetohydrostatic (MHS) atmospheres

L. J. November

The Light Physics, PO Box 217, La Luz, NM 88337-0217, USA
(Received 29 January 2003 / Accepted 18 December 2003 )

We show that the atmospheric and magnetic height variations are coupled in general MHS equilibria with gravity when isolated thin non-force-free flux tubes are present. In gas-dominated environments, as in stellar photospheres, flux tubes must expand rapidly with height to maintain pressure balance with the cool surroundings. But in magnetically dominated environments, as in stellar coronae, the large-scale background magnetic field determines the average spreading of embedded flux tubes, and rigidly held flux tubes require a specific surrounding atmosphere with a unique temperature profile for equilibrium. The solar static equilibrium atmosphere exhibits correct transition-region properties and the accepted base coronal temperature for the sun's main magnetic spherical harmonic. Steady flows contribute to the overall pressure, so equilibria with accelerated wind outflows are possible as well. Flux tubes reflect a mathematical degeneracy in the form of non-force-free fields, which leads to coupling in general equilibrium conditions. The equilibrium state characterizes the system average in usual circumstances and dynamics tend to maintain the MHS atmosphere. Outflows are produced everywhere external to rigidly held flux tubes that refill a depleted or cool atmosphere to the equilibrium gas profile, heating the gas compressively.

Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- Sun: atmosphere -- Sun: corona -- Sun: transition region -- stars: coronae -- stars: winds, outflows

© ESO 2004