Magnetic Reconnection Inside a Flux Rope Induced by Kelvin-Helmholtz Vortices.
ABSTRACT: On 5 May 2017, MMS observed a crater-type flux rope on the dawnside tailward magnetopause with fluctuations. The boundary-normal analysis shows that the fluctuations can be attributed to nonlinear Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) waves. Reconnection signatures such as flow reversals and Joule dissipation were identified at the leading and trailing edges of the flux rope. In particular, strong northward electron jets observed at the trailing edge indicated midlatitude reconnection associated with the 3-D structure of the KH vortex. The scale size of the flux rope, together with reconnection signatures, strongly supports the interpretation that the flux rope was generated locally by KH vortex-induced reconnection. The center of the flux rope also displayed signatures of guide-field reconnection (out-of-plane electron jets, parallel electron heating, and Joule dissipation). These signatures indicate that an interface between two interlinked flux tubes was undergoing interaction, causing a local magnetic depression, resulting in an M-shaped crater flux rope, as supported by reconstruction.
Project description:Abstract At the Earth's low?latitude magnetopause, clear signatures of the Kelvin?Helmholtz (KH) waves have been frequently observed during periods of the northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), whereas these signatures have been much less frequently observed during the southward IMF. Here, we performed the first 3?D fully kinetic simulation of the magnetopause KH instability under the southward IMF condition. The simulation demonstrates that fast magnetic reconnection is induced at multiple locations along the vortex edge in an early nonlinear growth phase of the instability. The reconnection outflow jets significantly disrupt the flow of the nonlinear KH vortex, while the disrupted turbulent flow strongly bends and twists the reconnected field lines. The resulting coupling of the complex field and flow patterns within the magnetopause boundary layer leads to a quick decay of the vortex structure, which may explain the difference in the observation probability of KH waves between northward and southward IMF conditions. Key Points Three?dimensional fully kinetic simulation of Kelvin?Helmholtz instability at the Earth's magnetopause under the southward IMF condition is performed Fast reconnection causes a rapid decay of the nonlinear vortex structure in the early nonlinear growth phase of the instability The vortex decay can lead to a lower probability of observing magnetopause Kelvin?Helmholtz waves/vortices during southward IMF periods
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental plasma process, by which magnetic energy is explosively released in the current sheet to energize charged particles and to create bi-directional Alfvénic plasma jets. Numerical simulations predicted that evolution of the reconnecting current sheet is dominated by formation and interaction of magnetic flux ropes, which finally leads to turbulence. Accordingly, most volume of the reconnecting current sheet is occupied by the ropes, and energy dissipation occurs via multiple relevant mechanisms, e.g., the parallel electric field, the rope coalescence and the rope contraction. As an essential element of the reconnecting current sheet, however, how these ropes evolve has been elusive. Here, we present direct evidence of secondary reconnection in the filamentary currents within the ropes. The observations indicate that secondary reconnection can make a significant contribution to energy conversion in the kinetic scale during turbulent reconnection.
Project description:The nature of three-dimensional reconnection when a twisted flux tube erupts during an eruptive flare or coronal mass ejection is considered. The reconnection has two phases: first of all, 3D "zipper reconnection" propagates along the initial coronal arcade, parallel to the polarity inversion line (PIL); then subsequent quasi-2D "main-phase reconnection" in the low corona around a flux rope during its eruption produces coronal loops and chromospheric ribbons that propagate away from the PIL in a direction normal to it. One scenario starts with a sheared arcade: the zipper reconnection creates a twisted flux rope of roughly one turn ( 2? radians of twist), and then main-phase reconnection builds up the bulk of the erupting flux rope with a relatively uniform twist of a few turns. A second scenario starts with a pre-existing flux rope under the arcade. Here the zipper phase can create a core with many turns that depend on the ratio of the magnetic fluxes in the newly formed flare ribbons and the new flux rope. Main phase reconnection then adds a layer of roughly uniform twist to the twisted central core. Both phases and scenarios are modeled in a simple way that assumes the initial magnetic flux is fragmented along the PIL. The model uses conservation of magnetic helicity and flux, together with equipartition of magnetic helicity, to deduce the twist of the erupting flux rope in terms the geometry of the initial configuration. Interplanetary observations show some flux ropes have a fairly uniform twist, which could be produced when the zipper phase and any pre-existing flux rope possess small or moderate twist (up to one or two turns). Other interplanetary flux ropes have highly twisted cores (up to five turns), which could be produced when there is a pre-existing flux rope and an active zipper phase that creates substantial extra twist.
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is believed to be the main driver to transport solar wind into the Earth's magnetosphere when the magnetopause features a large magnetic shear. However, even when the magnetic shear is too small for spontaneous reconnection, the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability driven by a super-Alfvénic velocity shear is expected to facilitate the transport. Although previous kinetic simulations have demonstrated that the non-linear vortex flows from the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability gives rise to vortex-induced reconnection and resulting plasma transport, the system sizes of these simulations were too small to allow the reconnection to evolve much beyond the electron scale as recently observed by the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft. Here, based on a large-scale kinetic simulation and its comparison with MMS observations, we show for the first time that ion-scale jets from vortex-induced reconnection rapidly decay through self-generated turbulence, leading to a mass transfer rate nearly one order higher than previous expectations for the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability.
Project description:Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are one of the primary manifestations of solar activity and can drive severe space weather effects. Therefore, it is vital to work towards being able to predict their occurrence. However, many aspects of CME formation and eruption remain unclear, including whether magnetic flux ropes are present before the onset of eruption and the key mechanisms that cause CMEs to occur. In this work, the pre-eruptive coronal configuration of an active region that produced an interplanetary CME with a clear magnetic flux rope structure at 1 AU is studied. A forward-S sigmoid appears in extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) data two hours before the onset of the eruption (SOL2012-06-14), which is interpreted as a signature of a right-handed flux rope that formed prior to the eruption. Flare ribbons and EUV dimmings are used to infer the locations of the flux rope footpoints. These locations, together with observations of the global magnetic flux distribution, indicate that an interaction between newly emerged magnetic flux and pre-existing sunspot field in the days prior to the eruption may have enabled the coronal flux rope to form via tether-cutting-like reconnection. Composition analysis suggests that the flux rope had a coronal plasma composition, supporting our interpretation that the flux rope formed via magnetic reconnection in the corona. Once formed, the flux rope remained stable for two hours before erupting as a CME. Electronic Supplementary Material:The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11207-017-1093-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process of topology change and energy release, taking place in plasmas on the Sun, in space, in astrophysical objects and in the laboratory. However, observational evidence has been relatively rare and typically only partial. Here we present evidence of fast reconnection in a solar filament eruption using high-resolution H-alpha images from the New Vacuum Solar Telescope, supplemented by extreme ultraviolet observations. The reconnection is seen to occur between a set of ambient chromospheric fibrils and the filament itself. This allows for the relaxation of magnetic tension in the filament by an untwisting motion, demonstrating a flux rope structure. The topology change and untwisting are also found through nonlinear force-free field modelling of the active region in combination with magnetohydrodynamic simulation. These results demonstrate a new role for reconnection in solar eruptions: the release of magnetic twist.
Project description:We report on the large-scale evolution of dipolarization in the near-Earth plasma sheet during an intense (AL ~ -1000 nT) substorm on August 10, 2016, when multiple spacecraft at radial distances between 4 and 15 R E were present in the night-side magnetosphere. This global dipolarization consisted of multiple short-timescale (a couple of minutes) B z disturbances detected by spacecraft distributed over 9 MLT, consistent with the large-scale substorm current wedge observed by ground-based magnetometers. The four spacecraft of the Magnetospheric Multiscale were located in the southern hemisphere plasma sheet and observed fast flow disturbances associated with this dipolarization. The high-time-resolution measurements from MMS enable us to detect the rapid motion of the field structures and flow disturbances separately. A distinct pattern of the flow and field disturbance near the plasma boundaries was found. We suggest that a vortex motion created around the localized flows resulted in another field-aligned current system at the off-equatorial side of the BBF-associated R1/R2 systems, as was predicted by the MHD simulation of a localized reconnection jet. The observations by GOES and Geotail, which were located in the opposite hemisphere and local time, support this view. We demonstrate that the processes of both Earthward flow braking and of accumulated magnetic flux evolving tailward also control the dynamics in the boundary region of the near-Earth plasma sheet.Graphical AbstractMultispacecraft observations of dipolarization (left panel). Magnetic field component normal to the current sheet (BZ) observed in the night side magnetosphere are plotted from post-midnight to premidnight region: a GOES 13, b Van Allen Probe-A, c GOES 14, d GOES 15, e MMS3, g Geotail, h Cluster 1, together with f a combined product of energy spectra of electrons from MMS1 and MMS3 and i auroral electrojet indices. Spacecraft location in the GSM X-Y plane (upper right panel). Colorcoded By disturbances around the reconnection jets from the MHD simulation of the reconnection by Birn and Hesse (1996) (lower right panel). MMS and GOES 14-15 observed disturbances similar to those at the location indicated by arrows.
Project description:A plethora of solar dynamic events, such as the formation of active regions, the emission of jets and the occurrence of eruptions is often associated with the emergence of magnetic flux from the interior of the Sun to the surface and above. Here, we present a short review on the onset, driving and/or triggering of such events by magnetic flux emergence. We briefly describe some key observational examples, theoretical aspects and numerical simulations, towards revealing the mechanisms that govern solar dynamics and activity related to flux emergence. We show that the combination of important physical processes like shearing and reconnection of magnetic fieldlines in emerging flux regions or at their vicinity can power some of the most dynamic phenomena in the Sun on various temporal and spatial scales. Based on previous and recent observational and numerical studies, we highlight that, in most cases, none of these processes alone can drive and also trigger explosive phenomena releasing considerable amount of energy towards the outer solar atmosphere and space, such as flares, jets and large-scale eruptions (e.g. coronal mass ejections). In addition, one has to take into account the physical properties of the emerging field (e.g. strength, amount of flux, relative orientation to neighbouring and pre-existing magnetic fields, etc.) in order to better understand the exact role of magnetic flux emergence on the onset of solar dynamic events. This article is part of the theme issue 'Solar eruptions and their space weather impact'.
Project description:The Sun's atmosphere is frequently disrupted by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), coupled with flares and energetic particles. The coupling is usually attributed to magnetic reconnection at a vertical current sheet connecting the flare and CME, with the latter embedding a helical magnetic structure known as flux rope. However, both the origin of flux ropes and their nascent paths toward eruption remain elusive. Here, we present an observation of how a stellar-sized CME bubble evolves continuously from plasmoids, mini flux ropes that are barely resolved, within half an hour. The eruption initiates when plasmoids springing from a vertical current sheet merge into a leading plasmoid, which rises at increasing speeds and expands impulsively into the CME bubble, producing hard x-ray bursts simultaneously. This observation illuminates a complete CME evolutionary path capable of accommodating a wide variety of plasma phenomena by bridging the gap between microscale and macroscale dynamics.
Project description:Magnetic reconnection (MR) is a fundamental plasma process associated with conversion of the magnetic field energy into kinetic plasma energy, which is invoked to explain many non-thermal signatures in astrophysical events. Here we demonstrate that ultrafast relativistic MR in a magnetically dominated regime can be triggered by a readily available (TW-mJ-class) laser interacting with a micro-scale plasma slab. Three-dimensional (3D) particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations show that when the electrons beams excited on both sides of the slab approach the end of the plasma, MR occurs and it gives rise to efficient energy dissipation that leads to the emission of relativistic electron jets with cut-off energy ~12?MeV. The proposed scenario allows for accessing an unprecedented regime of MR in the laboratory, and may lead to experimental studies that can provide insight into open questions such as reconnection rate and particle acceleration in relativistic MR.