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Flux Tubes and Dynamos

  • M. Schüssler (a1)

Abstract

The structure of solar surface magnetic fields, the way they erupt from the the convection zone below, and processes like flux expulsion and fragmentation instabilities support the view that magnetic flux in a stellar convection zone is in an intermittent, fragmented state which can be described as an ensemble of magnetic flux tubes. Depending on size and field strength, the dynamics of magnetic flux tubes can strongly differ from the behavior of a passive, diffuse field which is often assumed in conventional mean-field dynamo theory. Observed properties of active regions like emergence in low latitudes, Hale's polarity rules, tilt angles, and the process of sunspot formation from smaller fragments, together with theoretical considerations of the dynamics of buoyant flux tubes indicate that the magnetic structures which erupt in an emerging active region are not passive to convection and originate in a source region (presumably an overshoot layer below the convection zone proper) with a field strength of at least 105 G, far beyond the equipartition field strength with respect to convective flows. We discuss the consequences of such a situation for dynamo theory of the solar cycle and consider the possibility of dynamo models on the basis of flux tubes. A simple, illustrative example of a flux tube dynamo is presented.

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