The influence of spatial resolution on nonlinear force-free modeling

Marc DeRosa, Michael Wheatland, K. D. Leka, Graham Barnes, Tahar Amari, Aurélien Canou, S. A. Gilchrist, Julia Thalmann, Gherardo Valori, Thomas Wiegelmann, Carolus Schrijver, A. Malanushenko, X. Sun, Stephane Regnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


The nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) model is often used to describe the solar coronal magnetic field, however a series of earlier studies revealed difficulties in the numerical solution of the model in application to photospheric boundary data. We investigate the sensitivity of the modeling to the spatial resolution of the boundary data, by applying multiple codes that numerically solve the NLFFF model to a sequence of vector magnetogram data at different resolutions, prepared from a single Hinode/Solar Optical Telescope Spectro-Polarimeter scan of NOAA Active Region 10978 on 2007 December 13. We analyze the resulting energies and relative magnetic helicities, employ a Helmholtz decomposition to characterize divergence errors, and quantify changes made by the codes to the vector magnetogram boundary data in order to be compatible with the force-free model. This study shows that NLFFF modeling results depend quantitatively on the spatial resolution of the input boundary data, and that using more highly resolved boundary data yields more self-consistent results. The free energies of the resulting solutions generally trend higher with increasing resolution, while relative magnetic helicity values vary significantly between resolutions for all methods. All methods require changing the horizontal components, and for some methods also the vertical components, of the vector magnetogram boundary field in excess of nominal uncertainties in the data. The solutions produced by the various methods are significantly different at each resolution level. We continue to recommend verifying agreement between the modeled field lines and corresponding coronal loop images before any NLFFF model is used in a scientific setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2015


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