Rapid progress is currently occurring in solar magneto-convection simulations. What can we expect in the near future? More physics will be included: more accurate representation of the frequency dependence of the opacity, non-equilibrium ionization, partial ionization and non-LTE radiation. Such work is already begun in the bifrost (Gudiksen et al., 2011; Martínez-Sykora et al., 2012), stagger and MuRAM (Cheung and Cameron, 2012) codes. The next big step for numerical simulations of the upper photosphere and chromosphere is the inclusion of time-dependent and partial ionization effects (generalized Ohm’s Law and ambipolar diffusion) and the extension from single to multifluid equations (neutrals, ions and electrons) (Khomenko and Collados, 2012; Cheung and Cameron, 2012). The most time consuming part of “realistic” convection calculations is the radiative transfer, even with the drastic approximations currently made. Alternative numerical solutions of the transfer equation are possible (Hayek et al., 2010). Observations from larger ground (GREGOR, the Big Bear New Solar Telescope and the Advance Technology Solar Telescope) and new space based observatories (Solar Dynamics Observatory, Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) and Solar Orbiter) will allow more detailed comparisons between observations and simulations, which will assist in clarifying the significant physical processes that determine the solar magneto-dynamics.
The biggest unanswered questions are: exactly how does the solar dynamo work, the details of the process of mass and energy transport through and energy dissipation in the chromosphere and corona, and the origins of eruptive events. We have qualitative models of these processes. We now need a more quantitative understanding. We would like to know: how the large scale regularities of the solar cycle are produced, the relation between global and local surface dynamo action, the origin of supergranulation, the role of weak fields in energizing the chromosphere and corona, the triggers of eruptive events, and the relation between global and local coronal behavior.
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 9, (2012), 4
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