The solar corona extends outward from the Sun into interplanetary
space as the solar wind. Important aspects of heliospheric
structure, such as the position and shape of the heliospheric
current sheet and the regions of fast and slow wind, are defined
by coronal structures.
The structure of the solar corona
is determined by the outward extension of the Sun's magnetic field.
While there are few measurements of the magnetic fields in the
corona, the Sun's magnetic field has been measured in the photosphere
for many years.
To understand the large-scale structure of the solar corona and
inner heliosphere, it is necessary to accurately map the photospheric
magnetic field into the corona and beyond. We are interested
in the large-scale and long-wavelength interaction of the plasma
and magnetic fields, so the phenomena of interest are well described
by the magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) equations. Until recently, self-consistent
MHD solutions of the corona have typically been confined to idealized
situations, suitable for many theoretical purposes but incapable
of direct comparisons with actual data. The goal of our research is
to bring MHD computations
to a new level, where they can not only
be used in theoretical studies but as a tool for the analysis
of solar and heliospheric data.
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