Title: Observational Signatures of Asymmetric Magnetic Reconnection in
Type of Project: Data analysis
Skills/Interest Required: Interest in plasma astrophysics or the numerical modeling of plasmas.
Some knowledge of intermediate electromagnetism and/or fluid mechanics is required.
The data analysis will be performed primarily using IDL.
Mentors: Dr. Nick Murphy and Dr. Mari Paz Miralles
Email: namurphy_at_cfa.harvard.edu mmiralles_at_cfa.harvard.edu
Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important processes in the solar
corona. Reconnection occurs when the magnetic field lines of a highly
conducting plasma are broken and rejoined, thus changing the magnetic
connectivity of the system. This process is responsible for explosive
energy release and particle acceleration during solar flares. Recent
simulations of line-tied asymmetric reconnection predict observational
signatures during solar eruptions . In particular, the post-flare loop
structure is skewed into a characteristic candle flame shape, and more
hard X-ray emission will occur on the side with the weaker magnetic field.
The goal of this project will be to characterize the observational
signatures of asymmetric magnetic reconnection in post-flare loops and
compare to the results predicted by the numerical simulations. To
accomplish this goal, we will (A) look at flare events near the solar limb
to characterize the distortion of post-flare loops; (B) look at motion and
relative brightness of each of the loop footpoints. For these two tasks
we will analyze recent solar eruptive event images from Hinode/XRT,
SDO/AIA, STEREO/EUVI, SOHO/MDI, and SDO/HMI.
Figure: X-ray observation of candle flame loops near the solar limb
 Murphy, N. A., Miralles, M. P. et al. 2011, ApJ, in preparation