Reconnection Between Twisted Flux Tubes – Implications for Coronal Heating

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Kalman Joshua Knizhnik1, Spiro K Antiochos2, C Richard DeVore2, James A Klimchuk2 and Peter Fraser Wyper3, (1)Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States, (2)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (3)Oak Ridge Associated Universities Inc., Oak Ridge, TN, United States
The nature of the heating of the Sun’s corona has been a long-standing unanswered problem in solar physics. Beginning with the work of Parker (1972), many authors have argued that the corona is continuously heated through numerous small-scale reconnection events known as nanoflares. In these nanoflare models, stressing of magnetic flux tubes by photospheric motions causes the field to become misaligned, producing current sheets in the corona. These current sheets then reconnect, converting the free energy stored in the magnetic field into heat. In this work, we use the Adaptively Refined MHD Solver (ARMS) to perform 3D MHD simulations that dynamically resolve regions of strong current to study the reconnection between twisted flux tubes in a plane-parallel Parker configuration. We investigate the energetics of the process, and show that the flux tubes accumulate stress gradually before undergoing impulsive reconnection. We study the motion of the individual field lines during reconnection, and demonstrate that the connectivity of the configuration becomes extremely complex, with multiple current sheets being formed, which could lead to enhanced heating. In addition, we show that there is considerable interaction between the twisted flux tubes and the surrounding untwisted field, which contributes further to the formation of current sheets. The implications for observations will be discussed.

This work was funded by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship, and by the NASA TR&T Program.