Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New theory unravels magnetic instability

10.12.2002


Reconnection, the merging of magnetic field lines of opposite polarity near the surface of the sun, Earth and some black holes, is believed to be the root cause of many spectacular astronomical events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, but the reason for this is not well understood. Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory now have a new theory that may explain the instability and advance the understanding of these phenomena.




Theorists Giovanni Lapenta of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plasma Theory group and Dana Knoll of the Lab’s Fluid Dynamics group presented their findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco at the Moscone Convention Center.

The theory is based on a 19th century mathematical observation called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. "What we are trying to determine is why magnetic field lines loop out from the surface of the sun, reconnect and then fall back," said Lapenta. "And why these systems, which look very stable, are in fact quite unstable."


According to Lapenta, reconnection rates based on resistivity are orders of magnitude too slow to explain observed coronal reconnections. One possible mechanism that provides fast reconnection rates is known as "driven" reconnection-where external forces drive field lines together in a way that is independent of resistivity. Lapenta and Knoll believe that related work focused on magnetic field line reconnection in Earth’s magnetopause has shown that the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability can cause compressive actions that push field lines together and drive reconnection. "We propose that the same mechanism at work in the magnetopause could conceivably be at work in the solar corona and elsewhere," said Lapenta.

In this theory, motion on the visible surface of the sun - the photosphere - leads to twisting deformation waves that move through the chromosphere, a layer of solar atmosphere just above the photosphere, growing larger as they move and emerging with a rapid increase of speed through the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere. This rapid change in speed, or velocity shear, injected into the corona can cause magnetic loops to reconnect, according to Lapenta.

"We have conducted a series of simulations and shown that indeed reconnection can be achieved trough local compression driven by Kelvin- Helmholtz and that the reconnection rate is not sensitive to resistivity," said Lapenta.

From this beginning point, Lapenta hopes to study the processes tied to motion on the surface of the sun to better understand why these "velocity shears" occur and how they move away from the sun and lead to CMEs and other solar events, and to apply this knowledge to better understanding the magnetic fields around the earth and the disc-shaped rotating masses, or accretion discs, that form around some black holes.


Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA’s Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.



Kevin Roark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lanl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy
21.04.2017 | Stockholm University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>