The correlation of fractal structures in the photospheric and the coronal magnetic field
University of Athens, Department of Physics, 15483 Athens, Greece e-mail: email@example.com
2 Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD-20723-6099, USA
3 University of Thessaloniki,Department of Physics, 54006 Thessaloniki, Greece
4 Institute for Space Applications and Remote Sensing, National Observatory of Athens, 15236 Penteli, Greece
5 National Technical University of Athens, 15773 Athens, Greece
Accepted: 23 June 2009
Context. This work examines the relation between the fractal properties of the photospheric magnetic patterns and those of the coronal magnetic fields in solar active regions.
Aims. We investigate whether there is any correlation between the fractal dimensions of the photospheric structures and the magnetic discontinuities formed in the corona.
Methods. To investigate the connection between the photospheric and coronal complexity, we used a nonlinear force-free extrapolation method that reconstructs the 3d magnetic fields using 2d observed vector magnetograms as boundary conditions. We then located the magnetic discontinuities, which are considered as spatial proxies of reconnection-related instabilities. These discontinuities form well-defined volumes, called here unstable volumes. We calculated the fractal dimensions of these unstable volumes and compared them to the fractal dimensions of the boundary vector magnetograms.
Results. Our results show no correlation between the fractal dimensions of the observed 2d photospheric structures and the extrapolated unstable volumes in the corona, when nonlinear force-free extrapolation is used. This result is independent of efforts to (1) bring the photospheric magnetic fields closer to a nonlinear force-free equilibrium and (2) omit the lower part of the modeled magnetic field volume that is almost completely filled by unstable volumes. A significant correlation between the fractal dimensions of the photospheric and coronal magnetic features is only observed at the zero level (lower limit) of approximation of a current-free (potential) magnetic field extrapolation.
Conclusions. We conclude that the complicated transition from photospheric non-force-free fields to coronal force-free ones hampers any direct correlation between the fractal dimensions of the 2d photospheric patterns and their 3d counterparts in the corona at the nonlinear force-free limit, which can be considered as a second level of approximation in this study. Correspondingly, in the zero and first levels of approximation, namely, the potential and linear force-free extrapolation, respectively, we reveal a significant correlation between the fractal dimensions of the photospheric and coronal structures, which can be attributed to the lack of electric currents or to their purely field-aligned orientation.
Key words: Sun: corona / Sun: flares / Sun: photosphere
© ESO, 2009