Conversion from mutual helicity to self-helicity observed with IRIS⋆
Key Laboratory of Solar Activity, National Astronomical Observatories,
Chinese Academy of Sciences,
2 Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Received: 11 June 2014
Accepted: 8 September 2014
Context. In the upper atmosphere of the Sun observations show convincing evidence for crossing and twisted structures, which are interpreted as mutual helicity and self-helicity.
Aims. We use observations with the new Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) to show the conversion of mutual helicity into self-helicity in coronal structures on the Sun.
Methods. Using far UV spectra and slit-jaw images from IRIS and coronal images and magnetograms from SDO, we investigated the evolution of two crossing loops in an active region, in particular, the properties of the Si IV line profile in cool loops.
Results. In the early stage two cool loops cross each other and accordingly have mutual helicity. The Doppler shifts in the loops indicate that they wind around each other. As a consequence, near the crossing point of the loops (interchange) reconnection sets in, which heats the plasma. This is consistent with the observed increase of the line width and of the appearance of the loops at higher temperatures. After this interaction, the two new loops run in parallel, and in one of them shows a clear spectral tilt of the Si IV line profile. This is indicative of a helical (twisting) motion, which is the same as to say that the loop has self-helicity.
Conclusions. The high spatial and spectral resolution of IRIS allowed us to see the conversion of mutual helicity to self-helicity in the (interchange) reconnection of two loops. This is observational evidence for earlier theoretical speculations.
Key words: Sun: transition region / Sun: UV radiation / Sun: chromosphere / techniques: spectroscopic / line: profiles
Movie associated with Fig. 1 and Appendix A are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014