The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 225, Issue 6, pp 977–999

Complexity methods applied to turbulence in plasma astrophysics

  • L. Vlahos
  • H. Isliker
Review Session A: Reviews

DOI: 10.1140/epjst/e2016-02650-7

Cite this article as:
Vlahos, L. & Isliker, H. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. (2016) 225: 977. doi:10.1140/epjst/e2016-02650-7
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Mathematical Modeling of Complex Systems


In this review many of the well known tools for the analysis of Complex systems are used in order to study the global coupling of the turbulent convection zone with the solar atmosphere where the magnetic energy is dissipated explosively. Several well documented observations are not easy to interpret with the use of Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) and/or Kinetic numerical codes. Such observations are: (1) The size distribution of the Active Regions (AR) on the solar surface, (2) The fractal and multi fractal characteristics of the observed magnetograms, (3) The Self-Organised characteristics of the explosive magnetic energy release and (4) the very efficient acceleration of particles during the flaring periods in the solar corona. We review briefly the work published the last twenty five years on the above issues and propose solutions by using methods borrowed from the analysis of complex systems. The scenario which emerged is as follows: (a) The fully developed turbulence in the convection zone generates and transports magnetic flux tubes to the solar surface. Using probabilistic percolation models we were able to reproduce the size distribution and the fractal properties of the emerged and randomly moving magnetic flux tubes. (b) Using a Non Linear Force Free (NLFF) magnetic extrapolation numerical code we can explore how the emerged magnetic flux tubes interact nonlinearly and form thin and Unstable Current Sheets (UCS) inside the coronal part of the AR. (c) The fragmentation of the UCS and the redistribution of the magnetic field locally, when the local current exceeds a Critical threshold, is a key process which drives avalanches and forms coherent structures. This local reorganization of the magnetic field enhances the energy dissipation and influences the global evolution of the complex magnetic topology. Using a Cellular Automaton and following the simple rules of Self Organized Criticality (SOC), we were able to reproduce the statistical characteristics of the observed time series of the explosive events, (d) finally, when the AR reaches the turbulently reconnecting state (in the language of the SOC theory this is called SOC state) it is densely populated by UCS which can act as local scatterers (replacing the magnetic clouds in the Fermi scenario) and enhance dramatically the heating and acceleration of charged particles.

Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Vlahos
    • 1
  • H. Isliker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsAristotle UniversityThessalonikiGreece

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