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Relative field-line helicity in bounded domains.

Yeates, A. R. and Page, M. H. (2018) 'Relative field-line helicity in bounded domains.', Journal of plasma physics., 84 (6). p. 775840602.


Models for astrophysical plasmas often have magnetic field lines that leave the boundary rather than closing within the computational domain. Thus, the relative magnetic helicity is frequently used in place of the usual magnetic helicity, so as to restore gauge invariance. We show how to decompose the relative helicity into a relative field-line helicity that is an ideal-magnetohydrodynamic invariant for each individual magnetic field line, and vanishes along any field line where the original field matches the reference field. Physically, this relative field-line helicity is a magnetic flux, whose specific definition depends on the gauge of the reference vector potential on the boundary. We propose a particular ‘minimal’ gauge that depends only on the reference field and minimises this boundary contribution, so as to reveal topological information about the original magnetic field. We illustrate the effect of different gauge choices using the Low–Lou and Titov–Démoulin models of solar active regions. Our numerical code to compute appropriate vector potentials and relative field-line helicity in Cartesian domains is open source and freely available.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of plasma physics This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press 2018.
Date accepted:01 November 2018
Date deposited:07 November 2018
Date of first online publication:26 November 2018
Date first made open access:26 May 2019

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