Non-equilibrium Ionization Modeling of Petschek-type Shocks in Reconnecting Current Sheets in Solar Eruptions

Chengcai Shen, John C. Raymond, Nicholas A. Murphy

Submitted on 2 November 2022


Non-equilibrium ionization (NEI) is essentially required for astrophysical plasma diagnostics once the plasma status departs from ionization equilibrium assumptions. In this work, we perform fast NEI calculations combined with magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations and analyze the ionization properties of a Petschek-type magnetic reconnection current sheet during solar eruptions. Our simulation reveals Petschek-type slow-mode shocks in the classical Spitzer thermal conduction models and conduction flux-limitation situations. The results show that under-ionized features can be commonly found in shocked reconnection outflows and thermal halo regions outside the shocks. The departure from equilibrium ionization strongly depends on plasma density. In addition, this departure is sensitive to the observable target temperature: the high-temperature iron ions are strongly affected by NEI effects. The under-ionization also affects the synthetic SDO/AIA intensities, which indicates that the reconstructed hot reconnection current sheet structure may be significantly under-estimated either for temperature or apparent width. We also perform the MHD-NEI analysis on the reconnection current sheet in the classical solar flare geometry. Finally, we show the potential reversal between the under-ionized and over-ionized state at the lower tip of reconnection current sheets where the downward outflow collides with closed magnetic loops, which can strongly affect multiple SDO/AIA band ratios along the reconnection current sheet.


Subjects: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Physics - Plasma Physics; Physics - Space Physics