EDP Sciences
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Volume 426, Number 3, November II 2004
Page(s) 1047 - 1063
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20035934

A&A 426, 1047-1063 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20035934

Emergence of magnetic flux from the convection zone into the corona

V. Archontis1, F. Moreno-Insertis1, 2, K. Galsgaard3, 4, A. Hood3 and E. O'Shea1

1  Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), La Laguna (Tenerife), Spain
    e-mail: vasilis@ll.iac.es
2  Department of Astrophysics, Faculty of Physics, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna (Tenerife), Spain
3  School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, UK
4  Niels Bohr Institute for Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics, Copenhagen, Denmark

(Received 23 December 2003 / Accepted 21 April 2004 )

Numerical experiments of the emergence of magnetic flux from the uppermost layers of the solar interior to the photosphere and its further eruption into the low atmosphere and corona are carried out. We use idealized models for the initial stratification and magnetic field distribution below the photosphere similar to those used for multidimensional flux emergence experiments in the literature. The energy equation is adiabatic except for the inclusion of ohmic and viscous dissipation terms, which, however, become important only at interfaces and reconnection sites. Three-dimensional experiments for the eruption of magnetic flux both into an unmagnetized corona and into a corona with a preexisting ambient horizontal field are presented. The shocks preceding the rising plasma present the classical structure of nonlinear Lamb waves. The expansion of the matter when rising into the atmosphere takes place preferentially in the horizontal directions: a flattened (or oval) low plasma- $\beta$ ball ensues, in which the field lines describe loops in the corona with increasing inclination away from the vertical as one goes toward the sides of the structure. Magnetograms and velocity field distributions on horizontal planes are presented simultaneously for the solar interior and various levels in the atmosphere. Since the background pressure and density drop over many orders of magnitude with increasing height, the adiabatic expansion of the rising plasma yields very low temperatures. To avoid this, the entropy of the rising fluid elements should be increased to the high values of the original atmosphere via heating mechanisms not included in the present numerical experiments.

The eruption of magnetic flux into a corona with a preexisting magnetic field pointing in the horizontal direction yields a clear case of essentially three-dimensional reconnection when the upcoming and ambient field systems come into contact. The coronal ambient field is chosen at time  t=0 perpendicular to the direction of the tube axis and thus, given the twist of the magnetic tube, almost anti-parallel to the field lines at the upper boundary of the rising plasma ball. A thin, dome-shaped current layer is formed at the interface between the two flux systems, in which ohmic dissipation and heating are taking place. The reconnection proceeds by merging successive layers on both sides of the reconnection site; however, this occurs not only at the cusp of the interface, but, also, gradually along its sides in the direction transverse to the ambient magnetic field. The topology of the magnetic field in the atmosphere is thereby modified: the reconnected field lines typically are part of the flanks of the tube below the photosphere but then join the ambient field system in the corona and reach the boundaries of the domain as horizontal field lines.

Key words: Sun: corona -- Sun: magnetic fields -- Sun: interior -- magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- methods: numerical -- stars: activity

© ESO 2004

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