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Coronal Field Opens at Lower Height During the Solar Cycles 22 and 23 Minimum Periods: IMF Comparison Suggests the Source Surface Should Be Lowered
Lee, C. O.; Luhmann, J. G.; Hoeksema, J. T.; Sun, X.; Arge, C. N.; de Pater, I.
AA(Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California; Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California), AB(Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California), AC(W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, Stanford University), AD(W. W. Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, Stanford University), AE(Air Force Research Laboratory/Space Vehicles Directorate), AF(Department of Earth and Planetary Science, University of California)
Solar Physics, Volume 269, Issue 2, pp.367-388 (SoPh Homepage)
Publication Date:
Corona, models, Coronal holes, Magnetic field, interplanetary, Magnetic field, observations, Solar cycle, observations
Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2011: The Author(s)
Bibliographic Code:


The solar cycle 23 minimum period has been characterized by a weaker solar and interplanetary magnetic field. This provides an ideal time to study how the strength of the photospheric field affects the interplanetary magnetic flux and, in particular, how much the observed interplanetary fields of different cycle minima can be understood simply from differences in the areas of the coronal holes, as opposed to differences in the surface fields within them. In this study, we invoke smaller source surface radii in the potential-field source-surface (PFSS) model to construct a consistent picture of the observed coronal holes and the near-Earth interplanetary field strength as well as polarity measurements for the cycles 23 and 22 minimum periods. Although the source surface value of 2.5 R &sun; is typically used in PFSS applications, earlier studies have shown that using smaller source surface heights generates results that better match observations during low solar activity periods. We use photospheric field synoptic maps from Mount Wilson Observatory (MWO) and find that the values of ≈ 1.9 R &sun; and ≈ 1.8 R &sun; for the cycles 22 and 23 minimum periods, respectively, produce the best results. The larger coronal holes obtained for the smaller source surface radius of cycle 23 somewhat offsets the interplanetary consequences of the lower magnetic field at their photospheric footpoints. For comparison, we also use observations from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) and find that the source surface radius of ≈ 1.5 R &sun; produces better results for cycle 23, rather than ≈ 1.8 R &sun; as suggested from MWO observations. Despite this difference, our results obtained from MWO and MDI observations show a qualitative consistency regarding the origins of the interplanetary field and suggest that users of PFSS models may want to consider using these smaller values for their source surface heights as long as the solar activity is low.
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