The standard flare model in three dimensions
I. Strong-to-weak shear transition in post-flare loops
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMC, Univ. Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
Received: 30 March 2012
Accepted: 20 May 2012
Context. The standard CSHKP model for eruptive flares is two-dimensional. Yet observational interpretations of photospheric currents in pre-eruptive sigmoids, shear in post-flare loops, and relative positioning and shapes of flare ribbons, all together require three-dimensional extensions to the model.
Aims. We focus on the strong-to-weak shear transition in post-flare loops, and on the time-evolution of the geometry of photospheric electric currents, which occur during the development of eruptive flares. The objective is to understand the three-dimensional physical processes, which cause them, and to know how much the post-flare and the pre-eruptive distributions of shear depend on each other.
Methods. The strong-to-weak shear transition in post-flare loops is identified and quantified in a flare observed by STEREO, as well as in a magnetohydrodynamic simulation of CME initiation performed with the OHM code. In both approaches, the magnetic shear is evaluated with field line footpoints. In the simulation, the shear is also estimated from ratios between magnetic field components.
Results. The modeled strong-to-weak shear transition in post-flare loops comes from two effects. Firstly, a reconnection-driven transfer of the differential magnetic shear, from the pre- to the post-eruptive configuration. Secondly, a vertical straightening of the inner legs of the CME, which induces an outer shear weakening. The model also predicts the occurrence of narrow electric current layers inside J-shaped flare ribbons, which are dominated by direct currents. Finally, the simulation naturally accounts for energetics and time-scales for weak and strong flares, when typical scalings for young and decaying solar active regions are applied.
Conclusions. The results provide three-dimensional extensions to the standard flare model. These extensions involve MHD processes that should be tested with observations.
Key words: magnetic reconnection / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / Sun: flares / Sun: UV radiation
© ESO, 2012