Twisted versus braided magnetic flux ropes in coronal geometry
II. Comparative behaviour
Department of Mathematical SciencesDurham University,
Received: 28 December 2015
Accepted: 2 March 2016
Aims. Sigmoidal structures in the solar corona are commonly associated with magnetic flux ropes whose magnetic field lines are twisted about a mutual axis. Their dynamical evolution is well studied, with sufficient twisting leading to large-scale rotation (writhing) and vertical expansion, possibly leading to ejection. Here, we investigate the behaviour of flux ropes whose field lines have more complex entangled/braided configurations. Our hypothesis is that this internal structure will inhibit the large-scale morphological changes. Additionally, we investigate the influence of the background field within which the rope is embedded.
Methods. A technique for generating tubular magnetic fields with arbitrary axial geometry and internal structure, introduced in part I of this study, provides the initial conditions for resistive-MHD simulations. The tubular fields are embedded in a linear force-free background, and we consider various internal structures for the tubular field, including both twisted and braided topologies. These embedded flux ropes are then evolved using a 3D MHD code.
Results. Firstly, in a background where twisted flux ropes evolve through the expected non-linear writhing and vertical expansion, we find that flux ropes with sufficiently braided/entangled interiors show no such large-scale changes. Secondly, embedding a twisted flux rope in a background field with a sigmoidal inversion line leads to eventual reversal of the large-scale rotation. Thirdly, in some cases a braided flux rope splits due to reconnection into two twisted flux ropes of opposing chirality – a phenomenon previously observed in cylindrical configurations.
Conclusions. Sufficiently complex entanglement of the magnetic field lines within a flux rope can suppress large-scale morphological changes of its axis, with magnetic energy reduced instead through reconnection and expansion. The structure of the background magnetic field can significantly affect the changing morphology of a flux rope.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / magnetic fields / methods: numerical / Sun: corona / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2016