In this paper, we seek to understand the timescale in which the photospheric motions on the Sun braid coronal magnetic field lines. This is a crucial ingredient for determining the viability of the braiding mechanism for explaining the high temperatures observed in the corona. We study the topological complexity induced in the coronal magnetic field, primarily using plasma motions extracted from magneto-convection simulations. This topological complexity is quantified using the field line winding, finite time topological entropy (FTTE), and passive scalar mixing. With these measures, we contrast mixing efficiencies of the magneto-convection simulation, a benchmark flow known as a "blinking vortex", and finally photospheric flows inferred from sequences of observed magnetograms using local correlation tracking. While the highly resolved magneto-convection simulations induce a strong degree of field line winding and FTTE, the values obtained from the observations from the plage region are around an order of magnitude smaller. This behavior is carried over to the FTTE. Nevertheless, the results suggest that the photospheric motions induce complex tangling of the coronal field on a timescale of hours.
- Sun: magnetic fields
- Sun: photosphere