1.1 Scope of review

The cyclic regeneration of the Sun’s large-scale magnetic field is at the root of all phenomena collectively known as “solar activity”. A near-consensus now exists to the effect that this magnetic cycle is to be ascribed to the inductive action of fluid motions pervading the solar interior. However, at this writing nothing resembling consensus exists regarding the detailed nature and relative importance of various possible inductive flow contributions.

My assigned task, to review “dynamo models of the solar cycle”, is daunting. I will therefore interpret this task as narrowly as I can get away with. This review will not discuss in any detail solar magnetic field observations, the physics of magnetic flux tubes and ropes, the generation of small-scale magnetic field in the Sun’s near-surface layers, hydromagnetic oscillator models of the solar cycle, or magnetic field generation in stars other than the Sun. Most of these topics are all worthy of full-length reviews, and do have a lot to bear on “dynamo models of the solar cycle”, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. With the exception of recent cycle prediction schemes based explicitly on dynamo models, I also chose to exclude from consideration the voluminous literature dealing with prediction of sunspot cycle amplitudes, including the related literature focusing exclusively on the mathematical modelling of the sunspot number time series, in manner largely or even sometimes entirely decoupled from the underlying physical mechanisms of magnetic field generation.

This review thus focuses on the cyclic regeneration of the large-scale solar magnetic field through the inductive action of fluid flows, as described by various approximations and simplifications of the partial differential equations of magnetohydrodynamics. Most current dynamo models of the solar cycle rely heavily on numerical solutions of these equations, and this computational emphasis is reflected throughout the following pages. Many of the mathematical and physical intricacies associated with the generation of magnetic fields in electrically conducting astrophysical fluids are well covered in a few recent reviews (see Hoyng, 2003Jump To The Next Citation Point; Ossendrijver, 2003Jump To The Next Citation Point), and so will not be addressed in detail in what follows. The focus is on models of the solar cycle, seeking primarily to describe the observed spatio-temporal variations of the Sun’s large-scale magnetic field.

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