The loopy Sun: resolving the small-scale solar magnetism
Solar magnetism may look deceptively boring (a rather common star with relatively low activity). As it turns out, even the most quiet areas of the Sun (away from the sunspots) harbour a rich and interesting magnetic activity which is extremely complex and dynamic at spatial scales as small as ~100 km. And more importantly, this magnetism permeates most of the Sun, all the time. Therefore, it is not surprising that it might play an important role for solving some longstanding questions of stellar magnetism as: how is the million degree corona maintained when all sunspots have disappeared during the minimum of magnetic activity? And this is of interest not only for solar physics but for stellar astrophysics too, since it is expected that every star with a convective envelope harbours small-scale magnetic activity that we cannot hope to observe with the great detail we observe it in the Sun. From the first evidence of the presence of magnetic fields in the quiet areas of the Sun to the discovery of the smallest organised magnetic structures ever observed in a stellar surface just 30 years have passed. In this seminar, I will give an overview of our present knowledge about the small-scale quiet Sun magnetism. In particular, I will show how small loops of sizes of several hundreds of kilometers appear in the surface and travel across the solar atmosphere, reaching upper layers and having direct implications on chromospheric (coronal) magnetism. I will also show some of the properties of these newly discovered magnetic structures such as their spatial distribution, a key ingredient for understanding their origin.
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