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Transition to turbulence in nonuniform coronal loops driven by torsional Alfvén waves. II. Extended analysis and effect of magnetic twist  

Sergio Díaz-Suárez   Submitted: 2022-07-14 02:45

It has been shown in a previous work that torsional Alfvén waves can drive turbulence in nonuniform coronal loops with a purely axial magnetic field. Here we explore the role of the magnetic twist. We model a coronal loop as a transversely nonuniform straight flux tube, anchored in the photosphere, and embedded in a uniform coronal environment. We consider that the magnetic field is twisted and control the strength of magnetic twist by a free parameter of the model. We excite the longitudinally fundamental mode of standing torsional Alfvén waves, whose temporal evolution is obtained by means of high-resolution three-dimensional ideal magnetohydrodynamic numerical simulations. We find that phase mixing of torsional Alfvén waves creates velocity shear in the direction perpendicular to the magnetic field lines. The velocity shear eventually triggers the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHi). In weakly twisted magnetic tubes, the KHi is able to grow nonlinearly and, subsequently, turbulence is driven in the coronal loop in a similar manner as in the untwisted case. Provided that magnetic twist remains weak, the effect of magnetic twist is to delay the onset of the KHi and to slow down the development of turbulence. In contrast, magnetic tension can suppress the nonlinear growth of the KHi when magnetic twist is strong enough, even if the KHi has locally been excited by the phase-mixing shear. Thus, turbulence is not generated in strongly twisted loops.

Authors: S. Díaz-Suárez and R. Soler
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2022-07-15 09:51
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Overdense Threads in the Solar Corona Induced by Torsional Alfvén Waves  

Sergio Díaz-Suárez   Submitted: 2021-11-26 04:48

High-resolution and high-cadence observations have shown that Alfvén waves are ubiquitous in the solar atmosphere. Theoretical works suggest their ability to transfer large energy fluxes from the photosphere to the corona and solar wind. In this proof-of-concept Letter we show that torsional Alfvén waves can induce the formation of filamentary plasma structures in the solar corona. We perform high-resolution 3D ideal MHD simulations in an initially uniform coronal plasma permeated by a line-tied twisted magnetic field. We find that torsional Alfvén waves develop Kelvin–Helmholtz instabilities as a result of the phase mixing process. The Kelvin–Helmholtz instability drives plasma compression that breaks the uniformity of density, creating elongated overdense threads aligned with the direction of the magnetic field. With synthetic modeling of SDO/AIA imaging we show that the overdense filaments could be seen in observations as fine strands that illuminate the underlying magnetic structure.

Authors: Díaz-Suárez, S. & Soler, R.
Projects: None

Publication Status: Published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Last Modified: 2021-11-26 09:15
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Transition to turbulence in nonuniform coronal loops driven by torsional Alfvén waves  

Sergio Díaz-Suárez   Submitted: 2021-02-15 04:43

Both observations and numerical simulations suggest that Alfvénic waves may carry sufficient energy to sustain the hot temperatures of the solar atmospheric plasma. However, the thermalization of wave energy is inefficient unless very short spatial scales are considered. Phase mixing is a mechanism that can take energy down to dissipation lengths, but it operates over too long a timescale. Here, we study how turbulence, driven by the nonlinear evolution of phase-mixed torsional Alfvén waves in coronal loops, is able to take wave energy down to the dissipative scales much faster than the theory of linear phase mixing predicts. We consider a simple model of a transversely nonuniform cylindrical flux tube with a constant axial magnetic field. The flux tube is perturbed by the fundamental mode of standing torsional Alfvén waves. We solved the three-dimensional (3D) ideal magnetohydrodynamics equations numerically to study the temporal evolution. Initially, torsional Alfvén waves undergo the process of phase mixing because of the transverse variation of density. After only few periods of torsional waves, azimuthal shear flows generated by phase mixing eventually trigger the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHi), and the flux tube is subsequently driven to a turbulent state. Turbulence is very anisotropic and develops transversely only to the background magnetic field. The obtained power law for the energy cascade to small scales is compatible with theoretical predictions of nearly 2D weak Alfvénic turbulence. After the onset of turbulence, the effective Reynolds number decreases in the flux tube much faster than in the initial linear stage governed by phase mixing alone. We conclude that the nonlinear evolution of torsional Alfvén waves, and the associated KHi, is a viable mechanism for the onset of turbulence in coronal loops.

Authors: S. Díaz-Suárez; Roberto Soler
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Last Modified: 2021-02-15 15:33
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Abstracts by Author
Transition to turbulence in nonuniform coronal loops driven by torsional Alfvén waves. II. Extended analysis and effect of magnetic twist
Overdense Threads in the Solar Corona Induced by Torsional Alfvén Waves
Transition to turbulence in nonuniform coronal loops driven by torsional Alfven waves

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