Journal Article

Numerical experiments on magnetic reconnection in solar flare and coronal mass ejection current sheets

Z. Mei, C. Shen, N. Wu, J. Lin, N. A. Murphy and I. I. Roussev

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 425, issue 4, pages 2824-2839
Published in print October 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online October 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Numerical experiments on magnetic reconnection in solar flare and coronal mass ejection current sheets

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Magnetic reconnection plays a critical role in energy conversion during solar eruptions. This paper presents a set of magnetohydrodynamic experiments for the magnetic reconnection process in a current sheet (CS) formed in the wake of the rising flux rope. The eruption results from the loss of equilibrium in a magnetic configuration that includes a current-carrying flux rope, representing a pre-existing filament. In order to study the fine structure and micro processes inside the CS, mesh refinement is used to reduce the numerical diffusion. We start with a uniform, explicitly defined resistivity which results in a Lundquist number S = 104 in the vicinity of CS. The use of mesh refinement allows the simulation to capture high-resolution features such as plasmoids from the tearing mode and plasmoid instability regions of turbulence and slow-mode shocks. Inside the CS, magnetic reconnection goes through the Sweet–Parker and the fractal stages, and eventually displays a time-dependent Petschek pattern. Our results support the concept of fractal reconnection suggested by Shibata et al. and Shibata & Tanuma, and also suggest that the CS evolves through Sweet–Parker reconnection prior to the fast reconnection stage. For the first time, the detailed features and/or fine structures inside the coronal mass ejection/flare CS in the eruption were investigated in this work.

Keywords: instabilities; magnetic reconnection; shock waves; turbulence; Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs); Sun: flares

Journal Article.  11935 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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