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  1. Abstract

    The formation, development, and impact of slow shocks in the upstream regions of reconnecting current layers are explored. Slow shocks have been documented in the upstream regions of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of magnetic reconnection as well as in similar simulations with thekglobalkinetic macroscale simulation model. They are therefore a candidate mechanism for preheating the plasma that is injected into the current layers that facilitate magnetic energy release in solar flares. Of particular interest is their potential role in producing the hot thermal component of electrons in flares. During multi-island reconnection, the formation and merging of flux ropes in the reconnecting current layer drives plasma flows and pressure disturbances in the upstream region. These pressure disturbances steepen into slow shocks that propagate along the reconnecting component of the magnetic field and satisfy the expected Rankine–Hugoniot jump conditions. Plasma heating arises from both compression across the shock and the parallel electric field that develops to maintain charge neutrality in a kinetic system. Shocks are weaker at lower plasmaβ, where shock steepening is slow. While these upstream slow shocks are intrinsic to the dynamics of multi-island reconnection, their contribution to electron heating remains relatively minor compared with that from Fermi reflection andmore »the parallel electric fields that bound the reconnection outflow.

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  2. Abstract

    We analyze the structure and evolution of ribbons from the M7.3 SOL2014-04-18T13 flare using ultraviolet images from the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), magnetic data from the SDO/Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, hard X-ray (HXR) images from the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager, and light curves from the Fermi/Gamma-ray Burst Monitor, in order to infer properties of coronal magnetic reconnection. As the event progresses, two flare ribbons spread away from the magnetic polarity inversion line. The width of the newly brightened front along the extension of the ribbon is highly intermittent in both space and time, presumably reflecting nonuniformities in the structure and/or dynamics of the flare current sheet. Furthermore, the ribbon width grows most rapidly in regions exhibiting concentrated nonthermal HXR emission, with sharp increases slightly preceding the HXR bursts. The light curve of the ultraviolet emission matches the HXR light curve at photon energies above 25 keV. In other regions the ribbon-width evolution and light curves do not temporally correlate with the HXR emission. This indicates that the production of nonthermal electrons is highly nonuniform within the flare current sheet. Our results suggest a strong connection between themore »production of nonthermal electrons and the locally enhanced perpendicular extent of flare ribbon fronts, which in turn reflects the inhomogeneous structure and/or reconnection dynamics of the current sheet. Despite this variability, the ribbon fronts remain nearly continuous, quasi-one-dimensional features. Thus, although the reconnecting coronal current sheets are highly structured, they remain quasi-two-dimensional and the magnetic energy release occurs systematically, rather than stochastically, through the volume of the reconnecting magnetic flux.

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