Is Flare Ribbon Fine Structure Related to Tearing in the Flare Current Sheet?

Peter F. Wyper (Lead / Corresponding author), David Pontin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Observations of solar flare ribbons show significant fine structure in the form of breaking wavelike perturbations and spirals. The origin of this structure is not well understood, but one possibility is that it is related to the tearing instability in the flare current sheet. Here we study this connection by constructing an analytical 3D magnetic field representative of an erupting flux rope with a flare current sheet below it. We introduce small-scale flux ropes representative of those formed during a tearing instability in the current layer, and use the squashing factor on the solar surface to identify the shape of the presumed flare ribbons and fine structure. Our analysis suggests there is a direct link between flare ribbon fine structure and flare current sheet tearing, with the majority of the ribbon fine structure related to oblique tearing modes. Depending upon the size, location, and twist of the small-scale flux ropes, breaking wavelike and spiral features within the hooks and straight sections of the flare ribbon can be formed that are qualitatively similar to observations. We also show that the handedness of the spirals/waves must be the same as the handedness of the hooks of the main ribbon. We conclude that tearing in the flare current layer is a likely explanation for spirals and wavelike features in flare ribbons.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021


  • Solar flares
  • Solar physics
  • Solar chromosphere
  • Solar corona
  • Solar magnetic reconnection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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