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Masson Sophie, Pariat Etienne, Aulanier Guillaume, Schrijver Carolus J.

The Nature of Flare Ribbons in Coronal Null-Point Topology

The Astrophysical Journal, 2009, vol. 700, pp. 559-578

Référence DOI : 10.1088/0004-637X/700/1/559
Référence ADS : 2009ApJ...700..559M

Résumé :

Flare ribbons are commonly attributed to the low-altitude impact, along the footprints of separatrices or quasi-separatrix layers (QSLs), of particle beams accelerated through magnetic reconnection. If reconnection occurs at a three-dimensional coronal magnetic null point, the footprint of the dome-shaped fan surface would map a closed circular ribbon. This paper addresses the following issues: does the entire circular ribbon brighten simultaneously, as expected because all fan field lines pass through the null point? And since the spine separatrices are singular field lines, do spine-related ribbons look like compact kernels? What can we learn from these observations about current sheet formation and magnetic reconnection in a null-point topology? The present study addresses these questions by analyzing Transition Region and Coronal Explorer and Solar and Heliospheric Observatory/Michelson Doppler Imager observations of a confined flare presenting a circular ribbon. Using a potential field extrapolation, we linked the circular shape of the ribbon with the photospheric mapping of the fan field lines originating from a coronal null point. Observations show that the flare ribbon outlining the fan lines brightens sequentially along the counterclockwise direction and that the spine-related ribbons are elongated. Using the potential field extrapolation as initial condition, we conduct a low-beta resistive magnetohydrodynamics simulation of this observed event. We drive the coronal evolution by line-tied diverging boundary motions, so as to emulate the observed photospheric flow pattern associated with some magnetic flux emergence. The numerical analysis allows us to explain several observed features of the confined flare. The vorticity induced in the fan by the prescribed motions causes the spines to tear apart along the fan. This leads to formation of a thin current sheet and induces null-point reconnection. We also find that the null point and its associated topological structure is embedded within QSLs, already present in the asymmetric potential field configuration. We find that the QSL footprints correspond to the observed elongated spine ribbons. Finally, we observe that before and after reconnecting at the null point, all field lines undergo slipping and slip-running reconnection within the QSLs. Field lines, and therefore particle impacts, slip or slip-run according to their distance from the spine, in directions and over distances that are compatible with the observed dynamics of the ribbons.

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