Review Article: MHD Wave propagation near coronal null points of magnetic fields

James McLaughlin, Alan William Hood, Ineke de Moortel

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Abstract

We present a comprehensive review of MHD wave behaviour in the neighbourhood of coronal null points: locations where the magnetic field, and hence the local Alfvén speed, is zero. The behaviour of all three MHD wave modes, i.e. the Alfvén wave and the fast and slow magnetoacoustic waves, has been investigated in the neighbourhood of 2D, 2.5D and (to a certain extent) 3D magnetic null points, for a variety of assumptions, configurations and geometries. In general, it is found that the fast magnetoacoustic wave behaviour is dictated by the Alfvén-speed profile. In a β=0 plasma, the fast wave is focused towards the null point by a refraction effect and all the wave energy, and thus current density, accumulates close to the null point. Thus, null points will be locations for preferential heating by fast waves. Independently, the Alfvén wave is found to propagate along magnetic fieldlines and is confined to the fieldlines it is generated on. As the wave approaches the null point, it spreads out due to the diverging fieldlines. Eventually, the Alfvén wave accumulates along the separatrices (in 2D) or along the spine or fan-plane (in 3D). Hence, Alfvén wave energy will be preferentially dissipated at these locations. It is clear that the magnetic field plays a fundamental role in the propagation and properties of MHD waves in the neighbourhood of coronal null points. This topic is a fundamental plasma process and results so far have also lead to critical insights into reconnection, mode-coupling, quasi-periodic pulsations and phase-mixing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-236
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume158
Issue number2-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

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