The effect of reconnection on the structure of the Sun's open-closed-flux boundary

D. I. Pontin, P. F. Wyper

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Global magnetic field extrapolations are now revealing the huge complexity of the Sun's corona, and in particular the structure of the boundary between open and closed magnetic flux. Moreover, recent developments indicate that magnetic reconnection in the corona likely occurs in highly fragmented current layers, and that this typically leads to a dramatic increase in the topological complexity beyond that of the equilibrium field. In this paper we use static models to investigate the consequences of reconnection at the open–closed flux boundary ("interchange reconnection") in a fragmented current layer. We demonstrate that it leads to efficient mixing of magnetic flux (and therefore plasma) from open and closed field regions. This corresponds to an increase in the length and complexity of the open–closed boundary. Thus, whenever reconnection occurs at a null point or separator of this open–closed boundary, the associated separatrix arc of the so-called S-web in the high corona becomes not a single line but a band of finite thickness within which the open–closed boundary is highly structured. This has significant implications for the acceleration of the slow solar wind, for which the interaction of open and closed field is thought to be important, and may also explain the coronal origins of certain solar energetic particles. The topological structures examined contain magnetic null points, separatrices and separators, and include a model for a pseudo-streamer. The potential for understanding both the large scale morphology and fine structure observed in flare ribbons associated with coronal nulls is also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date18 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2015


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