Transverse MHD Waves as Signatures of Braiding-induced Magnetic Reconnection in Coronal Loops

Ramada Sukarmadji*, Patrick Antolin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major coronal heating theory based on magnetic reconnection relies on the existence of braided magnetic field structures in the corona. In this small-angle reconnection scenario, numerical simulations indicate that the reconnected magnetic field lines are driven sideways by magnetic tension and can overshoot from their new rest position, thereby leading to low-amplitude transverse MHD waves. This provides an efficient mechanism for transverse MHD wave generation, and the direct causality also constitutes substantial evidence of reconnection from braiding. However, this wave-generation mechanism has never been directly observed. Recently, the telltale signature of small-angle reconnection in a sheared coronal structure has been identified through nanojets, which are small, short-lived, and fast jetlike bursts in the nanoflare range transverse to the guide field. We present for the first time Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph and Solar Dynamics Observatory observations of transverse MHD waves in a coronal loop that directly result from braiding-induced reconnection. The reconnection is identified by the presence of nanojets at the loop apex that release nanoflare-range energy. We find that the oscillations have an energy flux on the order of 106–108 erg cm−2 s−1, which is within the budget to power active region loops. The estimated kinetic and thermal energy from the nanojets is also sufficient to power the transverse waves and sustain the observed heating at the loop apex. This discovery provides major support to (a) existing theories that transverse MHD waves can be a signature of reconnection, (b) the existence of braiding in coronal structures, and (c) the coronal reconnection scenario identified by nanojets.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL17
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2024

Cite this