Validation and Benchmarking of a Practical Free Magnetic Energy and Relative Magnetic Helicity Budget Calculation in Solar Magnetic Structures
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In earlier works we introduced and tested a nonlinear force-free (NLFF) method designed to self-consistently calculate the coronal free magnetic energy and the relative magnetic helicity budgets of observed solar magnetic structures. In principle, the method requires only a single, photospheric or low-chromospheric, vector magnetogram of a quiet-Sun patch or an active region and performs calculations without three-dimensional magnetic and velocity-field information. In this work we strictly validate this method using three-dimensional coronal magnetic fields. Benchmarking employs both synthetic, three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations and nonlinear force-free field extrapolations of the active-region solar corona. Our time-efficient NLFF method provides budgets that differ from those of more demanding semi-analytical methods by a factor of approximately three, at most. This difference is expected to come from the physical concept and the construction of the method. Temporal correlations show more discrepancies that are, however, soundly improved for more complex, massive active regions, reaching correlation coefficients on the order of, or exceeding, 0.9. In conclusion, we argue that our NLFF method can be reliably used for a routine and fast calculation of the free magnetic energy and relative magnetic helicity budgets in targeted parts of the solar magnetized corona. As explained in this article and in previous works, this is an asset that can lead to valuable insight into the physics and triggering of solar eruptions.
KeywordsHelicity, magnetic Magnetic fields, corona Active regions, magnetic fields Magnetohydrodynamics
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