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Front. Phys. | doi: 10.3389/fphy.2019.00085

Influence of resonant absorption on the generation of the Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability

  • 1School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
  • 2Centre for Mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Belgium

The inhomogeneous solar corona is continuously disturbed by transverse MHD waves. In the inhomogeneous environment of coronal flux tubes, these waves are subject to resonant absorption, a physical mechanism of mode conversion in which the wave energy is transferred to the transition boundary layers at the edge between these flux tubes and the ambient corona. Recently, transverse MHD waves have also been shown to trigger the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability (KHI) due to the velocity shear flows across the boundary layer. Also, continuous driving of kink modes in loops has been shown to lead to fully turbulent loops. It has been speculated that resonant absorption fuels the instability by amplifying the shear flows. In this work, we show that this is indeed the case by performing simulations of impulsively triggered transverse MHD waves in loops with and without an initially present boundary layer, and with and without enhanced viscosity that prevents the onset of KHI. In the absence of the boundary layer, the first unstable modes have high azimuthal wavenumber. A boundary layer is generated relatively late due to the mixing process of KHI vortices, which allows the late onset of resonant absorption. As the resonance grows, lower azimuthal wavenumbers become unstable, in what appears as an inverse energy cascade. Regardless of the thickness of the initial boundary layer, the velocity shear from the resonance also triggers higher order azimuthal unstable modes radially inwards inside the loop and a self-inducing process of KHI vortices occurs gradually deeper at a steady rate until basically all the loop is covered by small-scale vortices. We can therefore make the generalisation that all loops with transverse MHD waves become fully turbulent and that resonant absorption plays a key role in energising and spreading the transverse wave-induced KHI rolls all over the loop.

Keywords: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), Sun: activity, Sun: corona, Sun: oscillations, Resonant absorption, instabilities

Received: 05 Mar 2019; Accepted: 17 May 2019.

Edited by:

Luis Eduardo A. Vieira, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Brazil

Reviewed by:

Abhishek K. Srivastava, Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), India
Michael S. Ruderman, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Tongjiang Wang, The Catholic University of America, United States
Tardelli Ronan Coelho Stekel, Federal Institute of São Paulo, Brazil  

Copyright: © 2019 Antolin and Van Doorsselaere. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Patrick Antolin, University of St Andrews, School of Mathematics and Statistics, St Andrews, United Kingdom, patrick.antolin@st-andrews.ac.uk