Reconnection nanojets in the solar corona

Patrick Antolin*, Paolo Pagano, Paola Testa, Antonino Petralia, Fabio Reale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The solar corona is shaped and mysteriously heated to millions of degrees by the Sun’s magnetic field. It has long been hypothesized that the heating results from a myriad of tiny magnetic energy outbursts called nanoflares, driven by the fundamental process of magnetic reconnection. Misaligned magnetic field lines can break and reconnect, producing nanoflares in avalanche-like processes. However, no direct and unique observations of such nanoflares exist to date, and the lack of a smoking gun has cast doubt on the possibility of solving the coronal heating problem. From coordinated multi-band high-resolution observations, we report on the discovery of very fast and bursty nanojets, the telltale signature of reconnection-based nanoflares resulting in coronal heating. Using state-of-the-art numerical simulations, we demonstrate that the nanojet is a consequence of the slingshot effect from the magnetically tensed, curved magnetic field lines reconnecting at small angles. Nanojets are therefore the key signature of reconnection-based coronal heating in action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalNature Astronomy
Volume5
Issue number1
Early online date21 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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