Blob formation and acceleration in the solar wind: role of converging flows and viscosity
- 1Centrum voor Plasma-Astrofysica, Departement Wiskunde, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B – bus 2400, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
- 2Plasma Theory Group, Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
- 3Solar and Magnetospheric MHD Theory Group, Mathematical Institute, North Haugh, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9SS, Scotland, UK
Abstract. The effect of viscosity and of converging flows on the formation of blobs in the slow solar wind is analysed by means of resistive MHD simulations. The regions above coronal streamers where blobs are formed (Sheeley et al., 1997) are simulated using a model previously proposed by Einaudi et al. (1999). The result of our investigation is two-fold. First, we demonstrate a new mechanism for enhanced momentum transfer between a forming blob and the fast solar wind surrounding it. The effect is caused by the longer range of the electric field caused by the tearing instability forming the blob. The electric field reaches into the fast solar wind and interacts with it, causing a viscous drag that is global in nature rather than local across fluid layers as it is the case in normal uncharged fluids (like water). Second, the presence of a magnetic cusp at the tip of a coronal helmet streamer causes a converging of the flows on the two sides of the streamer and a direct push of the forming island by the fast solar wind, resulting in a more efficient momentum exchange.