Solar flares and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities: A parameter survey⋆
1 Centre for Mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2 School of Physics and Astronomy, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650050 PR China
Accepted: 5 July 2018
Context. Hard X-ray (HXR) sources are frequently observed near the top of solar flare loops, which are also bright in soft X-ray (SXR) and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavebands. We revisit a recent scenario proposed by Fang et al. (2016) to trigger loop-top turbulence in flaring loops, which can help explain variations seen in SXR and EUV brightenings and potentially impact and induce HXR emission. It is conjectured that evaporation flows from flare-impacted chromospheric footpoints interact with each other near the loop top and produce turbulence via the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KHI).
Aims. By performing a rigorous parameter survey, in which we vary the duration, total amount, and asymmetry of the energy deposition at both footpoints, we assess the relevance of the KHI in triggering and sustaining loop-top turbulence. We synthesize SXR and EUV emission and discuss the possibility of HXR emission through bremsstrahlung or inverse Compton processes, which scatter SXR photons to HXR photons via the inverse Compton mechanism.
Methods. We performed 2.5D numerical simulations in which the magnetohydrodynamic model incorporates a realistic photosphere to coronal stratification, parametrized heating, radiative losses, and field-aligned anisotropic thermal conduction. We focus on the trigger of the KHI and the resulting turbulence, as well as identify various oscillatory patterns that appear in the evolutions.
Results. We find that a M2.2-class related amount of energy should be deposited in less than four minutes to trigger a KHI interaction. Slower deposition, or lesser energy (< 0.33 × 1029 ergs) rather leads to mere loop-top compression sites bounded by shocks, without KHI development. Asymmetry in the footpoint deposition determines whether the KHI turbulent zone gets produced away from the apex, and asymmetric cases can show a slow-mode mediated, periodic displacement of the turbulent zone. Our reference simulation further demonstrates a clear 25 s periodicity in the declining phase of the SXR light curve, wherein compressional effects dominate.
Conclusions. When turbulence is produced in the loop apex, an index of −5/3 can be found in the spectra of velocity and magnetic field fluctuations. Typical values for M-class flares routinely show KHI development. The synthesized SXR light curve shows a clear periodic signal related to the sloshing motion of the vortex pattern created by the KHI.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: corona / Sun: flares / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
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© ESO 2018