Nov 4

NSO: Magnetic Cancellation Captures the Interest of NSO REU Graduate, NASA Parker Solar Probe

A scientific image explaining the creation of a magnetic field.
Graphic displaying a cancellation event that leads to the creation of a kinked magnetic field, that as it propagates outwards, can be measured by PSP as a switchback. In A, the two unrelated blue and red field lines are approaching each other. In B, the cancellation (here interchange reconnection) has occurred and creates a new connectivity displaying two areas with horizontal fields (one red and one blue) that are expected to move in outward and inward directions. Credit: L.A. Fisk, and J.C. Kasper 2020 The Astrophysical Journal Letters 894 L4.

The quiet Sun is a frontier of the solar surface devoid of active regions, plage, and sunspots, but what it hardly lacks is its own suite of magnetic mysteries. One phenomenon is magnetic cancellation, the interaction between magnetic structures of opposite polarities that partially or completely cancel each other out. Understanding magnetic cancellation and its consequences are one piece of the puzzle to understanding our Sun’s magnetic behavior. We have recently learned that magnetic cancellation can be responsible for one of the most unexpected results found by the NASA Parker Solar Probe (PSP) mission, the ubiquitous magnetic switchbacks in the near-sun heliosphere.

Magnetic cancellation also captured the interest of the National Solar Observatory (NSO). Vincent Ledvina, a graduate of the NSO’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, authored a paper that was recently published in The Astrophysical Journal. Ledvina highlights a project that began in 2019 that explored several photospheric magnetic cancellations in the quiet Sun to see what happens during small-scale cancellation events, quantify these properties, and test the hypothesis of the existence of related flows and transverse (horizontal) magnetic fields. 

Read More on the NSO website