Magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the ejection of a magnetic flux rope⋆
1 School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, North Haugh, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland KY16 9SS, UK
2 Centre for Plasma-Astrophysics, K. U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
Received: 18 December 2012
Accepted: 20 March 2013
Context. Coronal mass ejections (CME’s) are one of the most violent phenomena found on the Sun. One model to explain their occurrence is the flux rope ejection model. In this model, magnetic flux ropes form slowly over time periods of days to weeks. They then lose equilibrium and are ejected from the solar corona over a few hours. The contrasting time scales of formation and ejection pose a serious problem for numerical simulations.
Aims. We simulate the whole life span of a flux rope from slow formation to rapid ejection and investigate whether magnetic flux ropes formed from a continuous magnetic field distribution, during a quasi-static evolution, can erupt to produce a CME.
Methods. To model the full life span of magnetic flux ropes we couple two models. The global non-linear force-free field (GNLFFF) evolution model is used to follow the quasi-static formation of a flux rope. The MHD code ARMVAC is used to simulate the production of a CME through the loss of equilibrium and ejection of this flux rope.
Results. We show that the two distinct models may be successfully coupled and that the flux rope is ejected out of our simulation box, where the outer boundary is placed at 2.5 R⊙. The plasma expelled during the flux rope ejection travels outward at a speed of 100 km s-1, which is consistent with the observed speed of CMEs in the low corona.
Conclusions. Our work shows that flux ropes formed in the GNLFFF can lead to the ejection of a mass loaded magnetic flux rope in full MHD simulations. Coupling the two distinct models opens up a new avenue of research to investigate phenomena where different phases of their evolution occur on drastically different time scales.
Key words: Sun: coronal mass ejections / Sun: corona / magnetic fields / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
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