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Context. Extrapolations of solar photospheric vector magnetograms into three-dimensional magnetic fields in the chromosphere and corona are usually done under the assumption that the fields are force-free. This condition is violated in the photosphere itself and a thin layer in the lower atmosphere above. The field calculations can be improved by preprocessing the photospheric magnetograms. The intention here is to remove a non-force-free component from the data.
Aims. We compare two preprocessing methods presently in use, namely the methods of Wiegelmann et al. (2006, Sol. Phys., 233, 215) and Fuhrmann et al. (2007, A&A, 476, 349).
Methods. The two preprocessing methods were applied to a vector magnetogram of the recently observed active region NOAA AR 10 953. We examine the changes in the magnetogram effected by the two preprocessing algorithms. Furthermore, the original magnetogram and the two preprocessed magnetograms were each used as input data for nonlinear force-free field extrapolations by means of two different methods, and we analyze the resulting fields.
Results. Both preprocessing methods managed to significantly decrease the magnetic forces and magnetic torques that act through the magnetogram area and that can cause incompatibilities with the assumption of force-freeness in the solution domain. The force and torque decrease is stronger for the Fuhrmann et al. method. Both methods also reduced the amount of small-scale irregularities in the observed photospheric field, which can sharply worsen the quality of the solutions. For the chosen parameter set, the Wiegelmann et al. method led to greater changes in strong-field areas, leaving weak-field areas mostly unchanged, and thus providing an approximation of the magnetic field vector in the chromosphere, while the Fuhrmann et al. method weakly changed the whole magnetogram, thereby better preserving patterns present in the original magnetogram. Both preprocessing methods raised the magnetic energy content of the extrapolated fields to values above the minimum energy, corresponding to the potential field. Also, the fields calculated from the preprocessed magnetograms fulfill the solenoidal condition better than those calculated without preprocessing.

We have numerically studied the bifurcation properties of a sheet pinch with impenetrable stress-free boundaries. An incompressible, electrically conducting fluid with spatially and temporally uniform kinematic viscosity and magnetic diffusivity is confined between planes at x1=0 and 1. Periodic boundary conditions are assumed in the x2 and x3 directions and the magnetofluid is driven by an electric field in the x3 direction, prescribed on the boundary planes. There is a stationary basic state with the fluid at rest and a uniform current J=(0,0,J3). Surprisingly, this basic state proves to be stable and apparently to be the only time-asymptotic state, no matter how strong the applied electric field and irrespective of the other control parameters of the system, namely, the magnetic Prandtl number, the spatial periods L2 and L3 in the x2 and x3 directions, and the mean values B¯2 and B¯3 of the magnetic-field components in these directions.

Context: Most solar and stellar dynamo models use the alpha-Omega scenario where the magnetic field is generated by the interplay between differential rotation (the Omega effect) and a mean electromotive force due to helical turbulent convection flows (the alpha effect). There are, however, turbulent dynamo mechnisms that may complement the alpha effect or may be an alternative to it. Aims: We investigate models of solar-type dynamos where the alpha effect is completely replaced by two other turbulent dynamo mechanisms, namely the Omega x J effect and the shear- current effect, which both result from an inhomogeneity of the mean magnetic field. Methods: We studied axisymmetric mean-field dynamo models containing differential rotation, the Omega x J and shear-current effects, and a meridional circulation. The model calculations were carried out using the rotation profile of the Sun as obtained from helioseismic measurements and radial profiles of other quantities according to a standard model of the solar interior. Results: Without meridional flow, no satisfactory agreement of the models with the solar observations can be obtained. With a sufficiently strong meridional circulation included, however, the main properties of the large-scale solar magnetic field, namely, its oscillatory behavior, its latitudinal drift towards the equator within each half cycle, and its dipolar parity with respect to the equatorial plane, are correctly reproduced. Conclusions: We have thereby constructed the first mean-field models of solar-type dynamos that do not use the alpha effect.

The equilibrium states of electrically conducting fluids or plasmas have been a subject of intense study for a long time, motivated in particular by the interest in controlled thermonuclear fusion, as well as that in space and astrophysical phenomena such as plasma loops in the solar corona. If high temperatures prohibit solid walls, a conducting fluid can be held together by the action of an electric current passing through it with the pressure gradients being balanced by the Lorentz force. The resultant configuration is known as a pinch. In this paper we report on studies of the pinch in the geometry of a plane sheet.

A numerical bifurcation analysis of the electrically driven plane sheet pinch is presented. The electrical conductivity varies across the sheet such as to allow instability of the quiescent basic state at some critical Hartmann number. The most unstable perturbation is the two-dimensional tearing mode. Restricting the whole problem to two spatial dimensions, this mode is followed up to a time-asymptotic steady state, which proves to be sensitive to three-dimensional perturbations even close to the point where the primary instability sets in. A comprehensive three-dimensional stability analysis of the two-dimensional steady tearing-mode state is performed by varying parameters of the sheet pinch. The instability with respect to three-dimensional perturbations is suppressed by a sufficiently strong magnetic field in the invariant direction of the equilibrium. For a special choice of the system parameters, the unstably perturbed state is followed up in its nonlinear evolution and is found to approach a three-dimensional steady state.

A numerical bifurcation analysis of the electrically driven plane sheet pinch is presented. The electrical conductivity varies across the sheet such as to allow instability of the quiescent basic state at some critical Hartmann number. The most unstable perturbation is the two-dimensional tearing mode. Restricting the whole problem to two spatial dimensions, this mode is followed up to a time-asymptotic steady state, which proves to be sensitive to three- dimensional perturbations even close to the point where the primary instability sets in. A comprehensive three- dimensional stability analysis of the two-dimensional steady tearing-mode state is performed by varying parameters of the sheet pinch. The instability with respect to three-dimensional perturbations is suppressed by a sufficiently strong magnetic field in the invariant direction of the equilibrium. For a special choice of the system parameters, the unstably perturbed state is followed up in its nonlinear evolution and is found to approach a three-dimensional steady state.