Extreme ultraviolet imaging of three-dimensional magnetic reconnection in a solar eruption
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Magnetic reconnection, a change of magnetic field connectivity, is a fundamental physical process in which magnetic energy is released explosively, and it is responsible for various eruptive phenomena in the universe. However, this process is difficult to observe directly. Here, the magnetic topology associated with a solar reconnection event is studied in three dimensions using the combined perspectives of two spacecraft. The sequence of extreme ultraviolet images clearly shows that two groups of oppositely directed and non-coplanar magnetic loops gradually approach each other, forming a separator or quasi-separator and then reconnecting. The plasma near the reconnection site is subsequently heated from ∼ 1 to ≥ 5MK. Shortly afterwards, warm flare loops (∼3MK) appear underneath the hot plasma. Other observational signatures of reconnection, including plasma inflows and downflows, are unambiguously revealed and quantitatively measured. These observations provide direct evidence of magnetic reconnection in a three-dimensional configuration and reveal its origin.
Sun , J Q , Cheng , X , Ding , M D , Guo , Y , Priest , E R , Parnell , C E , Edwards , S J , Zhang , J , Chen , P F & Fang , C 2015 , ' Extreme ultraviolet imaging of three-dimensional magnetic reconnection in a solar eruption ' Nature Communications , vol 6 , 7598 . DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8598
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X.C., J.Q.S., M.D.D., Y.G., P.F.C. and C.F. are supported by NSFC through grants 11303016, 11373023, 11203014 and 11025314, and by NKBRSF through grants 2011CB811402 and 2014CB744203. C.E.P. and S.J.E. are supported by the UK STFC. J.Z. is supported by US NSF AGS-1249270 and AGS-1156120.
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