The emergence of toroidal flux tubes from beneath the solar photosphere
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Niels Bohr Institute, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
3 Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), 38200 La Laguna (Tenerife), Spain; also at Department of Astrophysics, Faculty of Physics, Universidad de La Laguna, 38200 La Laguna (Tenerife), Spain
Accepted: 10 June 2009
Context. Models of flux emergence frequently use a twisted cylindrical loop as the initial starting configuration and ignore the coupling between the radiation field and plasma. In these models, the axis of the original tube never emerges through the photosphere. Without the axis emerging, it is very difficult to form a realistic sunspot.
Aims. The aim is to use a toroidal flux loop, placed beneath the solar photosphere and study whether the axis of the system emerges fully into the atmosphere. The toroidal curvature means that the plasma can drain more effectively than in a straight cylindrical tube.
Methods. Three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic numerical simulations of an emerging magnetic flux tube are presented for an initial toroidal loop model. The simulations use a Lagrangian-Remap code that is particularly suited to dealing with shocks and strong current sheets.
Results. The evolution of the toroidal loop is followed and the characteristics of the emergence process are compared with the traditional cylindrical loops. The flux sources seen at the photosphere are more circular, and there are less shearing motions in the upper photosphere. When the initial magnetic field strength is relatively weak the evolution of the system is similar to the cylindrical loop case, with the formation of a new flux rope above the photosphere. A striking result is that for large values of field strength the axial field of the toroidal loop emerges fully into the corona. This is reported for the first time in experiments of flux emergence in a highly stratified atmosphere that do not solve self-consistently the radiation transfer problem. In addition, the new flux rope forms below the original axis of the toroidal tube when the field strength is sufficiently strong.
Key words: Sun: magnetic fields / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / plasmas
© ESO, 2009