Formation of fast shocks by magnetic reconnection in the solar corona

Hsieh, M. H.; Tsai, C. L.; Ma, Z. W.; Lee, L. C.
September 2009
Physics of Plasmas;Sep2009, Vol. 16 Issue 9, p092901
Academic Journal
Reconnections of magnetic fields over the solar surface are expected to generate abundant magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) discontinuities and shocks, including slow shocks and rotational discontinuities. However, the generation of fast shocks by magnetic reconnection process is relatively not well studied. In this paper, magnetic reconnection in a current sheet is studied based on two-dimensional resistive MHD numerical simulations. Magnetic reconnections in the current sheet lead to the formation of plasma jets and plasma bulges. It is further found that the plasma bulges, the leading part of plasma jets, in turn lead to the generation of fast shocks on flanks of the bulges. The simulation results show that during the magnetic reconnection process, the plasma forms a series of structures: plasma jets, plasma bulges, and fast shocks. As time increases, the bulges spread out along the current sheet (±z direction) and the fast shocks move just ahead of the bulges. The effects of initial parameters ρs/ρm, β∞, and trec on the fast shock generation are also examined, where ρs/ρm is the ratio of plasma densities on two sides of the initial current sheet, β∞=P∞/(B∞2/2μ0), P∞ is the plasma pressure and B∞ is the magnetic field magnitude far from the current sheet, and trec is the reconnection duration. In the asymmetric case with ρs/ρm=2, β∞=0.01 and trec=1000, the maximum Alfvén Mach number of fast shocks (MA1 max) is MA1 max≅1.1, where MA1=Vn1/VA1, and Vn1 and VA1 are, respectively, the normal upstream fluid velocity and the upstream Alfvén speed in the fast shocks frame. As the density ratio ρs/ρm (=1–8) and plasma beta β∞ (=0.0001–1) increase, MA1 max varies slightly. For the case with a large plasma beta β∞ (=5), the fast shock is very weak. As the reconnection duration trec increases, the bulges lead to generation of fast shocks with a higher MA1 max. The present results can be applied to the mechanism of coronal heating by fast shocks.


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