Volume 646, February 2021
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Section||The Sun and the Heliosphere|
|Published online||24 February 2021|
Prominence formation by levitation-condensation at extreme resolutions⋆
Centre for mathematical Plasma-Astrophysics, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, KU Leuven, Belgium
Accepted: 8 December 2020
Context. Prominences in the solar atmosphere represent an intriguing and delicate balance of forces and thermodynamics in an evolving magnetic topology. How this relatively cool material comes to reside at coronal heights, and what drives its evolution prior to, during, and after its appearance, remains an area full of open questions.
Aims. We here set forth to identify the physical processes driving the formation and evolution of prominence condensations within 2.5D magnetic flux ropes. We deliberately focus on the levitation-condensation scenario, where a coronal flux rope forms and eventually demonstrates in situ condensations, revisiting it at extreme resolutions down to order 6 km in scale.
Methods. We perform grid-adaptive numerical simulations in a 2.5D translationally invariant setup, where we can study the distribution of all metrics involved in advanced magnetohydrodynamic stability theory for nested flux rope equilibria. We quantify in particular convective continuum instability (CCI), thermal instability (TI), baroclinicity, and mass-slipping metrics within a series of numerical simulations of prominences formed via levitation-condensation.
Results. Overall, we find that the formation and evolution of prominence condensations happens in a clearly defined sequence regardless of resolution, with background field strength between 3 and 10 Gauss. The CCI governs the slow evolution of plasma prior to the formation of distinct condensations found to be driven by the TI. Evolution of the condensations towards the topological dips of the magnetic flux rope is a consequence of these condensations initially forming out of pressure balance with their surroundings. From the baroclinicity distributions, smaller-scale rotational motions are inferred within forming and evolving condensations. Upon the complete condensation of a prominence ‘monolith’, the slow descent of this plasma towards lower heights appears consistent with the mass-slippage mechanism driven by episodes of both local current diffusion and magnetic reconnection.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: atmosphere / Sun: corona / Sun: filaments / prominences
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© ESO 2021
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