Kink instability of solar coronal loops as the cause of solar flares

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Solar coronal loops are observed to be remarkably stable structures. A magnetohydrodynamic stability analysis of a model loop by the energy method suggests that the main reason for stability is the fact that the ends of the loop are anchored in the dense photosphere. In addition to such line-tying, the effect of a radial pressure gradient is incorporated in the analysis. Two-ribbon flares follow the eruption of an active region filament, which may lie along a magnetic flux tube. It is suggested that the eruption is caused by the kink instability, which sets in when the amount of magnetic twist in the flux tube exceeds a critical value. This value depends on the aspect ratio of the loop, the ratio of the plasma to magnetic pressure and the detailed transverse magnetic structure. For a force-free field of uniform twist the critical twist is 3.3 pi, and for other fields it is typically between 2 pi and 6 pi. Occasionally active region loops may become unstable and give rise to small loop flares, which may also be a result of the kink instability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-321
JournalSolar Physics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1979


  • Atmospheric Models
  • Magnetohydrodynamic Stability
  • Photosphere
  • Solar Corona
  • Solar Flares
  • Far Ultraviolet Radiation
  • Magnetic Field Configurations
  • Magnetic Flux
  • Pressure Gradients
  • Solar Magnetic Field
  • Solar X-Rays


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