Volume 636, April 2020
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||27 April 2020|
Thermal instabilities: Fragmentation and field misalignment of filament fine structure⋆
Centre for mathematical Plasma-Astrophysics, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, KU Leuven, Belgium
2 Yunnan University, Kunming, PR China
Accepted: 14 March 2020
Context. Prominences show a surprising amount of fine structure and it is widely believed that their threads, as seen in Hα observations, provide indirect information concerning magnetic field topology. Both prominence and coronal rain condensations most likely originate from thermal instabilities in the solar corona. It is still not understood how non-linear instability evolution shapes the observed fine structure of prominences. Investigating this requires multidimensional, high-resolution simulations to resolve all emerging substructure in great detail.
Aims. We investigate the spontaneous emergence and evolution of fine structure in high-density condensations formed through the process of thermal instability under typical solar coronal conditions. Our study reveals intricate multidimensional processes that occur through in situ condensations in a representative coronal volume in a low plasma beta regime.
Methods. We quantified slow wave eigenfunctions used as perturbations and discuss under which conditions the thermal mode is unstable when anisotropic thermal conduction effects are included. We performed 2D and 3D numerical simulations of interacting slow magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) wave modes when all relevant non-adiabatic effects are included. Multiple levels of adaptive mesh refinement achieve a high resolution near regions with high density, thereby resolving any emerging fine structure automatically. Our study employs a local periodic coronal region traversed by damped slow waves inspired by the presence of such waves observed in actual coronal magnetic structures.
Results. We show that the interaction of multiple slow MHD wave modes in a regime unstable to the thermal mode leads to thermal instability. This initially forms pancake-like structures almost orthogonal to the local magnetic field, while low-pressure induced inflows of matter generate rebound shocks. This is succeeded by the rapid disruption of these pancake sheets through thin-shell instabilities evolving naturally from minute ram pressure imbalances. This eventually creates high-density blobs accompanied by thread-like features from shear flow effects. The further evolution of the blobs follows the magnetic field lines, such that a dynamical realignment with the background magnetic field appears. However, the emerging thread-like features are not at all field-aligned, implying only a very weak link between fine structure orientation and magnetic field topology.
Conclusions. As seen in our synthetic Hα views, threads formed by non-linear thermal instability evolution do not strictly outline magnetic field structure and this finding has far-reaching implications for field topology interpretations based on Hα observations.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / instabilities / waves / Sun: oscillations / Sun: filaments / prominences
The movie attached to Fig. 12 is available at https://www.aanda.org
© ESO 2020
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