Inferring the Heliospheric Magnetic Field Back through Maunder Minimum


Recent solar conditions include a prolonged solar minimum (2005–2009) and a solar maximum that has not fully recovered in terms of the Heliospheric Magnetic Field (HMF) strength when compared to the previous maximum values. These anomalies may indicate that we are entering an era of lower solar activity than observed at other times during the space age. We study past solar grand minima, especially the Maunder period (1645–1715) to gain further insight into grand minima. We find the timescale parameters associated with three processes attributed to the magnetic flux balance in the heliosphere using chi-square analysis. We use HMF time series reconstructed based on geomagnetic data and near-Earth spacecraft measurements (OMNI) data to find the fundamental timescales that influence heliospheric field evolution through conversion or opening of magnetic flux from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into the ambient heliospheric field, removal or loss of the ambient heliospheric field through magnetic reconnection, and interchange reconnection between CME magnetic flux and ambient heliospheric magnetic flux. We also investigate the existence of a floor in the heliospheric magnetic flux, in the absence of CMEs, and show that a floor $\leqslant 1.49$nT is sufficient to successfully describe the HMF evolution. The minimum value for the HMF at 1 au in the model-predicted historic record is 3.13 ± 0.35 nT. Our model results favorably reproduce paleocosmic data and near-Earth spacecraft measurements data and show how the HMF may evolve through periods of extremely low activity.


Earth Systems Research Center, Physics, Space Science Center

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The Astrophysical Journal


Institute of Physics (IOP)

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© 2017. The American Astronomical Society.