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Magnetic helicity estimations in models and observations of the solar magnetic field. Part I: Finite volume methods View all abstracts by submitter

Gherardo Valori   Submitted: 2016-10-10 03:26

Magnetic helicity is a conserved quantity of ideal magneto-hydrodynamics characterized by an inverse turbulent cascade. Accordingly, it is often invoked as one of the basic physical quantities driving the generation and structuring of magnetic fields in a variety of astrophysical and laboratory plasmas. We provide here the first systematic comparison of six existing methods for the estimation of the helicity of magnetic fields known in a finite volume. All such methods are reviewed, benchmarked, and compared with each other, and specifically tested for accuracy and sensitivity to errors. To that purpose, we consider four groups of numerical tests, ranging from solutions of the three-dimensional, force-free equilibrium, to magneto-hydrodynamical numerical simulations. Almost all methods are found to produce the same value of magnetic helicity within few percent in all tests. In the more solar-relevant and realistic of the tests employed here, the simulation of an eruptive flux rope, the spread in the computed values obtained by all but one method is only 3%, indicating the reliability and mutual consistency of such methods in appropriate parameter ranges. However, methods show differences in the sensitivity to numerical resolution and to errors in the solenoidal property of the input fields. In addition to finite volume methods, we also briefly discuss a method that estimates helicity from the field lines' twist, and one that exploits the field's value at one boundary and a coronal minimal connectivity instead of a pre-defined three-dimensional magnetic-field solution.

Authors: Gherardo Valori, Etienne Pariat, Sergey Anfinogentov, Feng Chen, Manolis K. Georgoulis, Yang Guo, Yang Liu, Kostas Moraitis, Julia K. Thalmann, Shangbin Yang
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted in Space Science Review
Last Modified: 2016-10-12 12:24
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