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Buoyancy-driven instabilities and the nonlinear breakup of a sheared magnetic layer

  • Fausto Cattaneo (a1), Tzihong Chiueh (a2) (a3) and David W. Hughes (a4)

Abstract

Motivated by problems concerning the storage and subsequent escape of the solar magnetic field we have studied how a magnetic layer embedded in a convectively stable atmosphere evolves due to axisymmetric instabilities driven by magnetic buoyancy. The initial equilibrium consists of a toroidal field sheared by a weaker poloidal component. The linear stability problem is investigated for both ideal and resistive MHD, and the nonlinear evolution is followed by numerical integration of the equations of motion. In all cases we found that the instability is greatly affected by the distribution and strength of the poloidal field. In particular, both the horizontal and vertical scales of the motions are controlled by the location of the surface on which the poloidal field vanishes — the resonant surface. In the nonlinear regime, a resonant surface close to the interface between the magnetized and field-free fluid leads to the localization of the instability so that only a fraction of the magnetic region is disrupted by the motions. By contrast, a deeply seated resonant surface leads to the complete disruption of the layer and to the formation of large, helical magnetic fragments whose identity is preserved for the entire simulation.

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Buoyancy-driven instabilities and the nonlinear breakup of a sheared magnetic layer

  • Fausto Cattaneo (a1), Tzihong Chiueh (a2) (a3) and David W. Hughes (a4)

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