Forced magnetic reconnection and plasmoid coalescence: I - MHD Simulations

Max Potter, Philippa Browning, Mykola Gordovskyy

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    Context. Forced magnetic reconnection, a reconnection event triggered by external perturbation, should be ubiquitous in the solar corona. Energy released during such cases can be much greater than that which was introduced by the perturbation. The exact dynamics of magnetic reconnection events are determined by the structure and complexity of the reconnection region: the thickness of reconnecting layers, the field curvature; the presence, shapes and sizes of magnetic islands. It is unclear how the properties of the external perturbation and the initial current sheet affect the reconnection region properties, and thereby the reconnection dynamics and energy release profile.
    Aims. We investigate the effect of the form of the external perturbation and initial current sheet on the evolution of the reconnection region and the energy release process. Chiefly we explore the non-linear interactions between multiple, simultaneous perturbations, which represent more realistic scenarios. Future work will use these results in test particle simulations to investigate particle acceleration over multiple reconnection events.
    Methods. Simulations are performed using Lare2d, a 2.5D Lagrangian-remap solver for the visco-resistive MHD equations. The model of forced reconnection is extended to include superpositions of sinusoidal driving disturbances, including localised Gaussian perturbations. A transient perturbation is applied to the boundaries of a region containing a force-free current sheet. The simulation domain is sufficiently wide to allow multiple magnetic islands to form and coalesce.
    Results. Island coalescence contributes significantly to energy release and involves rapid reconnection. Long wavelength modes in perturbations dominate the evolution, without the presence of which reconnection is either slow, as in the case of short wavelength modes, or the initial current sheet remains stable, as in the case of noise perturbations. Multiple perturbations combine in a highly non-linear manner: reconnection is typically faster than when either disturbance is applied individually, with multiple low-energy events contributing to the same total energy release.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages13
    JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
    Early online date25 Feb 2019
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


    • Sun: corona
    • Sun: flares
    • Magnetic reconnection
    • Magnetohydrodynamics

    Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

    • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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