Kink unstable coronal loops: current sheets, current saturation and magnetic reconnection

CL Gerrard, Alan William Hood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The kink instability in a coronal loop is a possible explanation of a compact loop flare as it may cause a current sheet to form allowing reconnection to take place and release the free magnetic energy stored in the loop. However, current sheets do not form in all cases. Ali and Sneyd (2001) investigated three different classes of equilibrium (determined by the form of the twist) using a magneto-frictional code. They searched for the equilibria to which the loop might evolve once it had become unstable to the kink instability. They found indications of current-sheet formation for only one class of equilibrium studied. However, as they pointed out, since their code searched for equilibria they were unable to say for certain that the loop would evolve in this way. In this paper we have considered the same three classes of equilibria but have used a code which follows the non-linear 3D MHD (magnetohydrodynamic) evolution of the loop. We have investigated whether or not there are indications of current-sheet formation. In the cases where there is evidence of this we have found that reconnection does occur and releases sufficient magnetic energy to explain a compact loop flare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages19
JournalSolar Physics
Publication statusPublished - May 2003




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