Brian T. Welsch

Brian T. Welsch
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Brian T. Welsch

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Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (14)
Physics - Data Analysis; Statistics and Probability (1)

Publications Authored By Brian T. Welsch

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the primary drivers of severe space weather disturbances in the heliosphere. Many CME models invoke ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) to explain the onset and subsequent acceleration of ejections. Both observations and numerical modeling, however, suggest that magnetic reconnection likely plays a major role in most, if not all, fast CMEs. Read More

How much electromagnetic energy crosses the photosphere in evolving solar active regions? With the advent of high-cadence vector magnetic field observations, addressing this fundamental question has become tractable. In this paper, we apply the "PTD-Doppler-FLCT-Ideal" (PDFI) electric field inversion technique of Kazachenko et al. (2014) to a 6-day HMI/SDO vector magnetogram and Doppler velocity sequence, to find the electric field and Poynting flux evolution in active region NOAA 11158, which produced an X2. Read More

The most violent space weather events (eruptive solar flares and coronal mass ejections) are driven by the release of free magnetic energy stored in the solar corona. Energy can build up on timescales of hours to days, and then may be suddenly released in the form of a magnetic eruption, which then propagates through interplanetary space, possibly impacting the Earth's space environment. Can we use the observed evolution of the magnetic and velocity fields in the solar photosphere to model the evolution of the overlying solar coronal field, including the storage and release of magnetic energy in such eruptions? The objective of CGEM, the Coronal Global Evolutionary Model, funded by the NASA/NSF Space Weather Modeling program, is to develop and evaluate such a model for the evolution of the coronal magnetic field. Read More

We study the effect of newly emerged solar active regions (ARs) on the large-scale magnetic environment of pre-existing ARs (PEARs). We first present a theoretical approach to quantify the "interaction energy" between new ARs and PEARs as the difference between (i) the summed magnetic energies of their individual potential fields and (ii) the energy of their superposed potential fields. We expect that this interaction energy can, depending upon the relative arrangements of newly emerged and PEAR magnetic flux, indicate the existence of "topological" free magnetic energy in the global coronal field that is independent of any "internal" free magnetic energy due to coronal electric currents flowing within the newly emerged and PEAR flux systems. Read More

Researchers have reported (i) correlations of coronal mass ejection (CME) speeds and the total photospheric magnetic flux swept out by flare ribbons in flare-associated eruptive events, and, separately, (ii) correlations of CME speeds and more rapid decay, with height, of magnetic fields in potential coronal models above eruption sites. Here, we compare the roles of both ribbon fluxes and the decay rates of overlying fields in a set of 16 eruptive events. We confirm previous results that higher CME speeds are associated with both larger ribbon fluxes and more rapidly decaying overlying fields. Read More

The minimum-energy configuration for the magnetic field above the solar photosphere is curl-free (hence, by Ampere's law, also current-free), so can be represented as the gradient of a scalar potential. Since magnetic fields are divergence free, this scalar potential obeys Laplace's equation, given an appropriate boundary condition (BC). With measurements of the full magnetic vector at the photosphere, it is possible to employ either Neumann or Dirichlet BCs there. Read More

Solar Active Region NOAA 11158 has hosted a number of strong flares, including one X2.2 event. The complexity of current density and current helicity are studied through cancellation analysis of their sign-singular measure, which features power-law scaling. Read More

Photospheric electric fields, estimated from sequences of vector magnetic field and Doppler measurements, can be used to estimate the flux of magnetic energy (the Poynting flux) into the corona and as time-dependent boundary conditions for dynamic models of the coronal magnetic field. We have modified and extended an existing method to estimate photospheric electric fields that combines a poloidal-toroidal (PTD) decomposition of the evolving magnetic field vector with Doppler and horizontal plasma velocities. Our current, more comprehensive method, which we dub the "{\bf P}TD-{\bf D}oppler-{\bf F}LCT {\bf I}deal" (PDFI) technique, can now incorporate Doppler velocities from non-normal viewing angles. Read More

We study coherent structures in solar photospheric flows in a plage in the vicinity of the active region AR 10930 using the horizontal velocity data derived from Hinode/SOT magnetograms. Eulerian and Lagrangian coherent structures are detected by computing the Q-criterion and the finite-time Lyapunov exponents of the velocity field, respectively. Our analysis indicates that, on average, the deformation Eulerian coherent structures dominate over the vortical Eulerian coherent structures in the plage region. Read More

The removal of magnetic flux from the quiet-sun photosphere is important for maintaining the statistical steady-state of the magnetic field there, for determining the magnetic flux budget of the Sun, and for estimating the rate of energy injected into the upper solar atmosphere. Magnetic feature death is a measurable proxy for the removal of detectable flux. We used the SWAMIS feature tracking code to understand how nearly 20000 detected magnetic features die in an hour-long sequence of Hinode/SOT/NFI magnetograms of a region of quiet Sun. Read More

The zero point of measured photospheric Doppler shifts is uncertain for at least two reasons: instrumental variations (from, e.g., thermal drifts), and the convective blueshift, a known correlation between intensity and upflows. Read More

We use autocorrelation to investigate evolution in flow fields inferred by applying Fourier Local Correlation Tracking (FLCT) to a sequence of high-resolution (0.3 \arcsec), high-cadence ($\simeq 2$ min) line-of-sight magnetograms of NOAA active region (AR) 10930 recorded by the Narrowband Filter Imager (NFI) of the Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) aboard the {\em Hinode} satellite over 12--13 December 2006. To baseline the timescales of flow evolution, we also autocorrelated the magnetograms, at several spatial binnings, to characterize the lifetimes of active region magnetic structures versus spatial scale. Read More

The availability of vector magnetogram sequences with sufficient accuracy and cadence to estimate the time derivative of the magnetic field allows us to use Faraday's law to find an approximate solution for the electric field in the photosphere, using a Poloidal-Toroidal Decomposition (PTD) of the magnetic field and its partial time derivative. Without additional information, however, the electric field found from this technique is under-determined -- Faraday's law provides no information about the electric field that can be derived the gradient of a scalar potential. Here, we show how additional information in the form of line-of-sight Doppler flow measurements, and motions transverse to the line-of-sight determined with ad-hoc methods such as local correlation tracking, can be combined with the PTD solutions to provide much more accurate solutions for the solar electric field, and therefore the Poynting flux of electromagnetic energy in the solar photosphere. Read More

We compute the change in the Lorentz force integrated over the outer solar atmosphere implied by observed changes in vector magnetograms that occur during large, eruptive solar flares. This force perturbation should be balanced by an equal and opposite force perturbation acting on the solar photosphere and solar interior. The resulting expression for the estimated force change in the solar interior generalizes the earlier expression presented by Hudson, Fisher and Welsch (CS-383, ASP, 221, 2008), providing horizontal as well as vertical force components, and provides a more accurate result for the vertical component of the perturbed force. Read More