Magnetic flux emergence: a precursor of solar plasma expulsion
School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St.
North Haugh, St. Andrews,
e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 24 March 2011
Accepted: 6 November 2011
Aims. We model the emergence of magnetized plasma from the top of the convection zone to the lower corona. We investigate the eruption of coronal flux ropes above emerging flux regions.
Methods. We performed three-dimensional numerical experiments in which the time-dependent and resistive equations of MHD are solved self-consistently, using the Lare3D code.
Results. A subphotospheric magnetic flux tube rises from the convectively unstable layer into the solar surface, followed by the formation and eruption of a new flux rope into the corona. Firstly, we examined the case where the corona is field-free. The expansion of the emerging field forms an envelope sheath that surrounds the newly formed flux rope. The erupting ropes are confined by the envelope field. The eruptions are driven by the gradient of the gas pressure and the tension of fieldlines that reconnect within the emerging flux region. The amount of the initial twist of the emerging field and the dense plasma that is lifted up, determine the height-time profile of the erupting ropes. Secondly, we examined the case of emergence into a pre-existing magnetic field in the upper solar atmosphere. A variety of different ambient field configurations was used in the experiments. External reconnection between the emerging and the pre-existing field may result in the removal of sufficient flux from the interacting fields and the full ejection of the flux ropes.
Conclusions. The results indicate that the relative contact angle of the interacting flux systems and their field strengths are crucial parameters that ultimately affect the evolution of the eruption of the rope into the higher solar atmosphere. One important result is that for any contact angle that favors reconnection, ejective eruptions occur earlier when the ambient field is relatively strong. In many cases, the erupting plasma adopts an S-like configuration. The sigmoidal structure accelerates during the fast eruption of the rope. The acceleration is enhanced by the external and internal reconnection of fieldlines during the rising motion of the rope. A key result is that in the reconnection-favored cases, the flux ropes experience ejective eruptions when the envelope flux is reduced (owing to removal by external reconnection) below that of the erupting flux rope. If the envelope flux stays higher than the erupting flux, the magnetic flux rope remains confined by the envelope field.
Key words: Sun: corona / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: magnetic topology
© ESO, 2012