Relaxed equilibrium configurations to model fossil fields
I. A first family
CEA/DSM/IRFU/SAp, CE Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France;
AIM, UMR 7158, CEA - CNRS - Université Paris 7, France e-mail: [vincent.duez;stephane.mathis]@cea.fr
Accepted: 6 March 2010
Context. The understanding of fossil fields' origin, topology, and stability is one of the corner stones of the stellar magnetism theory. On one hand, since they survive on secular time scales, they may modify the structure and the evolution of their host stars. On the other hand, they must have a complex stable structure since it has been demonstrated that the simplest purely poloidal or toroidal fields are unstable on dynamical time scales. In this context, the only stable configuration found today is the one resulting from a numerical simulation by Braithwaite and collaborators who studied the evolution of an initial stochastic magnetic field, which is found to relax on a mixed stable configuration (poloidal and toroidal) that seems to be in equilibrium and then diffuses.
Aims. We investigate an equilibrium field in a semi-analytical way. In this first article, we study the barotropic magnetohydrostatic equilibrium states.
Methods. The problem reduces to a Grad-Shafranov-like equation with arbitrary functions. These functions are constrained by deriving the lowest-energy equilibrium states for given invariants of the considered axisymmetric problem, in particular for a given helicity known to be one of the causes of such problems. These theoretical results were applied to realistic stellar cases, the solar radiative core and the envelope of an Ap star, and discussed. In both cases we assumed that the field is initially confined in the stellar radiation zone.
Results. The generalization of the force-free Taylor's relaxation states studied in laboratory experiments (in spheromaks) that become non force-free in the self-gravitating stellar case are obtained. The case of general baroclinic equilibrium states will be studied in Paper II.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / plasmas / magnetic fields / stars: magnetic field
© ESO, 2010