Thermal Instability–Induced Fundamental Magnetic Field Strands in the Solar Corona

Patrick Antolin*, Juan Martínez-Sykora, Seray Şahin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Thermal instability is a fundamental process of astrophysical plasmas. It is expected to occur whenever the cooling is dominated by radiation and cannot be compensated for by heating. In this work, we conduct 2.5D radiation MHD simulations with the Bifrost code of an enhanced activity network in the solar atmosphere. Coronal loops are produced self-consistently, mainly through Joule heating, which is sufficiently stratified and symmetric to produce thermal nonequilibrium. During the cooling and driven by thermal instability, coronal rain is produced along the loops. Due to flux freezing, the catastrophic cooling process leading to a rain clump produces a local enhancement of the magnetic field, thereby generating a distinct magnetic strand within the loop up to a few Gauss stronger than the surrounding coronal field. These strands, which can be considered fundamental, are a few hundred kilometers in width, span most of the loop leg, and emit strongly in the UV and extreme UV (EUV), thereby establishing a link between the commonly seen rain strands in the visible spectrum with the observed EUV coronal strands at high resolution. The compression downstream leads to an increase in temperature that generates a plume-like structure, a strongly emitting spicule-like feature, and short-lived brightening in the UV during the rain impact, providing an explanation for similar phenomena seen with IRIS. Thermal instability and nonequilibrium can therefore be associated with localized and intermittent UV brightening in the transition region and chromosphere, as well as contribute to the characteristic filamentary morphology of the solar corona in the EUV.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL29
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume926
Issue number2
Early online date22 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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