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Proposed Resolution to the Solar Open Magnetic Flux Problem

Presentation #103.03 in the session The Corona and Solar Wind Speed.

Published onSep 18, 2023
Proposed Resolution to the Solar Open Magnetic Flux Problem

The solar magnetic fields emerging from the photosphere into the chromosphere and corona are comprised of a combination of “closed” and “open” fields. The closed magnetic field lines are defined as those having both ends rooted in the solar surface, while the “open” field lines are those having one end extending out into interplanetary space and the other rooted at the Sun’s surface. Since the early 2000’s, the amount of total unsigned open magnetic flux estimated by coronal models have been in significant disagreement with in situ spacecraft observations, especially during solar maximum. Estimates of total open unsigned magnetic flux using coronal hole observations (e.g., using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) or Helium (He) I) are in general agreement with the coronal model results and thus show similar disagreements with in situ observations. While several possible sources producing these discrepancies have been postulated over the years, there is still no clear resolution to the problem. This paper provides a brief overview of the problem and summarizes some proposed explanations for the discrepancies. In addition, two different ways of estimating the total unsigned open magnetic flux are presented, utilizing the Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA) model, and one of the methods produce surprisingly good agreement with in situ observations. The findings presented here suggest that intermittently or partially open magnetic fields at the boundaries of mid-latitude coronal holes and in close proximity to active regions are the probable source of the missing open flux. This explanation also brings in line many of the seemly contradictory facts that have made resolving this problem so difficult.

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