Decay of helical and nonhelical magnetic knots

Candelaresi, S. and Brandenburg, A. (2011) Decay of helical and nonhelical magnetic knots. Physical Review E, 84(1), 016406. (doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.84.016406)

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We present calculations of the relaxation of magnetic field structures that have the shape of particular knots and links. A set of helical magnetic flux configurations is considered, which we call n -foil knots of which the trefoil knot is the most primitive member. We also consider two nonhelical knots; namely, the Borromean rings as well as a single interlocked flux rope that also serves as the logo of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India. The field decay characteristics of both configurations is investigated and compared with previous calculations of helical and nonhelical triple-ring configurations. Unlike earlier nonhelical configurations, the present ones cannot trivially be reduced via flux annihilation to a single ring. For the n -foil knots the decay is described by power laws that range form t − 2 / 3 to t − 1 / 3 , which can be as slow as the t − 1 / 3 behavior for helical triple-ring structures that were seen in earlier work. The two nonhelical configurations decay like t − 1 , which is somewhat slower than the previously obtained t − 3 / 2 behavior in the decay of interlocked rings with zero magnetic helicity. We attribute the difference to the creation of local structures that contain magnetic helicity which inhibits the field decay due to the existence of a lower bound imposed by the realizability condition. We show that net magnetic helicity can be produced resistively as a result of a slight imbalance between mutually canceling helical pieces as they are being driven apart. We speculate that higher order topological invariants beyond magnetic helicity may also be responsible for slowing down the decay of the two more complicated nonhelical structures mentioned above.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Candelaresi, Dr Simon
Authors: Candelaresi, S., and Brandenburg, A.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Journal Name:Physical Review E
Publisher:American Physical Society
ISSN (Online):1550-2376
Published Online:25 July 2011

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