Solar Physics

, Volume 290, Issue 7, pp 1897–1907 | Cite as

Frozen-in Fractals All Around: Inferring the Large-Scale Effects of Small-Scale Magnetic Structure

  • R. T. James McAteer


The large-scale structure of the magnetic field in the solar corona provides the energy to power large-scale solar eruptive events. Our physical understanding of this structure, and hence our ability to predict these events, is limited by the type of data currently available. It is shown that the multifractal spectrum is a powerful tool to study this structure, by providing a physical connection between the details of photospheric magnetic gradients and current density at all size scales. This uses concepts associated with geometric measure theory and the theory of weakly differentiable functions to compare Ampère’s law to the wavelet-transform modulus maximum method. The Hölder exponent provides a direct measure of the rate of change of current density across spatial size scales. As this measure is independent of many features of the data (pixel resolution, data size, data type, presence of quiet-Sun data), it provides a unique approach to studying magnetic-field complexity and hence a potentially powerful tool for a statistical prediction of solar-flare activity. Three specific predictions are provided to test this theory: the multifractal spectra will not be dependent on the data type or quality; quiet-Sun gradients will not persist with time; structures with high current densities at large size scales will be the source of energy storage for solar eruptive events.


Flares, Dynamics Helicity, Magnetic Magnetic fields, Corona 



This work was supported by National Science Foundation Career award NSS AGS-1255024 and NASA contract NNH12CG10C. The author thanks the referee for useful insight and several very useful references.

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

The author declares he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Solar Physics and Space WeatherNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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