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Title: The heating of the solar corona by kink instabilities
Author: Bareford, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 0355
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The million-degree temperature of the solar corona might be due to the combined effect of barely distinguishable energy releases, called nanoflares, that occur throughout the solar atmosphere. Unfortunately, the high density of nanoflares, implied by this hypothesis, means that conclusive verification is beyond present observational capabilities. Nevertheless, it might be possible to investigate the plausibility of nanoflare heating by constructing a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) model; one that can derive the energy of nanoflares, based on the assumption that the ideal kink instability of a twisted coronal loop triggers a relaxation to a minimum energy state. The energy release depends on the current profile at the time when the ideal kink instability threshold is crossed. Subsequent to instability onset, fast magnetic reconnection ensues in the non-linear phase. As the flare erupts and declines, the field transitions to a lower energy level, which can be modelled as a helicity-conserving relaxation to a linear force-free state. The aim of this thesis is to determine the implications of such a scheme with respect to coronal heating. Initially, the results of a linear stability analysis for loops that have net current are presented. There exists substantial variation in the radial magnetic twist profiles for the loop states along the instability threshold. These results suggest that instability cannot be predicted by any simple twist-derived property reaching a critical value. The model is applied such that the loop undergoes repeated episodes of instability followed by energy-releasing relaxation. Photospheric driving is simulated as an entirely random process. Hence, an energy distribution of the nanoflares produced is collated. These results are discussed and unrealistic features of the model are highlighted.
Supervisor: Browning, Philippa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Solar Corona ; Magnetic Fields ; Magnetohydrodynamics ; Instabilities ; Magnetic Reconnection ; Plasmas