Solar Physics

, Volume 243, Issue 2, pp 171–191 | Cite as

Topological Aspects of Global Magnetic Field Reversal in the Solar Corona

  • R. C. Maclean
  • E. R. Priest


Every eleven years on average, the dipolar component of the Sun’s global coronal magnetic field reverses in sign – a consequence of the sunspot cycle. In this paper we begin to investigate the complex changes in coronal structure during the reversal. We present a simplified model of the solar cycle containing six time-varying photospheric sources of magnetic field and analyse the evolution of the global coronal field using the technique of magnetic charge topology. Surprisingly, a sequence of seventeen topological changes takes place in the model between one solar minimum state and the next; many of the resultant topological configurations correspond to observable magnetic field structures in the real corona. We also show how descriptions of all the six-source topological states from the model can be built up in terms of combinations of simpler four-source states, providing a framework for future descriptions of even more complicated topological states.


Solar Cycle Solar Phys Solar Minimum Solar Maximum Sunspot Cycle 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Armagh ObservatoryArmaghNorthern Ireland, UK
  2. 2.Institute of MathematicsUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsScotland, UK

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