Volume 628, August 2019
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||25 July 2019|
Plasmoid-mediated reconnection in solar UV bursts⋆
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Max-Planck-Princeton Center for Plasma Physics, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
3 Department of Astrophysical Sciences and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
4 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Solar Physics Laboratory, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
5 Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
Accepted: 1 July 2019
Context. Ultraviolet bursts are transients in the solar atmosphere with an increased impulsive emission in the extreme UV lasting for one to several tens of minutes. They often show spectral profiles indicative of a bi-directional outflow in response to magnetic reconnection.
Aims. To understand UV bursts, we study how motions of magnetic elements at the surface can drive the self-consistent formation of a current sheet resulting in plasmoid-mediated reconnection. In particular, we want to study the role of the height of the reconnection in the atmosphere.
Methods. We conducted numerical experiments solving the 2D magnetohydrodynamic equations from the solar surface to the upper atmosphere. Motivated by observations, we drove a small magnetic patch embedded in a larger system of magnetic field of opposite polarity. This type of configuration creates an X-type neutral point in the initial potential field. The models are characterized by the (average) plasma-β at the height of this X point.
Results. The driving at the surface stretches the X-point into a thin current sheet, where plasmoids appear, accelerating the reconnection, and a bi-directional jet forms. This is consistent with what is expected for UV bursts or explosive events, and we provide a self-consistent model of the formation of the reconnection region in such events. The gravitational stratification gives a natural explanation for why explosive events are restricted to a temperature range around a few 0.1 MK, and the presence of plasmoids in the reconnection process provides an understanding of the observed variability during the transient events on a timescale of minutes.
Conclusions. Our numerical experiments provide a comprehensive understanding of UV bursts and explosive events, in particular of how the atmospheric response changes if the reconnection happens at different plasma-β, that is, at different heights in the atmosphere. This analysis also gives new insight into how UV bursts might be related to the photospheric Ellerman bombs.
Key words: Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: chromosphere / Sun: transition region / Sun: corona / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
Movie attached to Fig. 2 is available at https://www.aanda.org
© H. Peter et al. 2019
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Open Access funding provided by Max Planck Society.
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