125. Density and temperature structure of plasmoids in jets

Author: Sargam Mulay at the University of Glasgow, Durgesh Tripathi at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Helen Mason and Giulio Del Zanna at the University of Cambridge, Vasilis Archontis at the University of St Andrews.

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Solar jets [7,4] are a transient display of collimated plasma which show simultaneous radiative signatures at various wavelengths probing multiple layers of the solar atmosphere. A number of studies have observed the presence of multithermal dense plasma structures along the jet known as plasmoids [1,8,5,12,2]. Various numerical simulations have shown that such plasmoids are likely a result of a tearing mode instability at the current sheet region as part of the magnetic reconnection process [10,11,3].

Observations and results

We found a suitable source of recurrent jet activity that was observed on Oct. 31, 2011, between 14:30 and 15:30 UT, simultaneously by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) onboard SDO and the X-ray Telescope (XRT) onboard Hinode. Combining EUV images of the jet plasmoids from AIA along with X-ray images from XRT in the Differential Emission measure (DEM) analysis [9] (xrt_dem_iterative2.pro) facilitates the investigation of the temperature structure of the plasmoids observed along the jet and at the footpoint of the jet. This approach helped to constrain the high-temperature part of the DEM.

Fig. 1 shows an image of the jet along with plasmoids observed at the spire and footpoint. These plasmoids appeared to be brighter than ambient plasma. Most of the plasmoids that appeared at the footpoint of the jet followed the curved spire plasma to a certain distance and then disappeared/merge within the spire plasma. We used an artificial slit along the curved spire and created a time-distance plot (panel (b)) for one hour of the recurrent jet activity. The bright yellow stripes are the jets with measured plane-of-sky velocities ranging between 178 and 341 km s-1

Figure 1. Figure 1: Panel (a): An active region jet observed in the AIA 171 Å channel. The plasmoids along the jet spire (SPs) and footpoints (FPs) are indicated by black and white arrows, respectively. The spire region is highlighted with a green arrow. Panel (b): a time-distance plot for recurrent jets. The plane-of-sky velocities were measured for these jets along the dashed green lines. Panels (c–f): DEM curves for the spire and footpoint plasmoids shown in panel (a). The Monte-Carlo solutions in each temperature bin are indicated by blue (50%), red (80%), and yellow (95%) bars and the black curves indicate best-fitting DEMs.

We used six EUV AIA channels (94, 131, 171, 193, 211, and 335 Å) and near-simultaneous XRT Ti-poly images in the DEM analysis. Various plasmoids were identified (shown in Fig. 1, Panel (a)) at the footpoint, and the spire of the jet. The DEMs were measured for these regions and are shown in Panels (c-f). The uncertainties in the DEMs were measured using the Monte Carlo (MC) solutions by varying the input intensities. The 50%, 80%, and 95% of the MC solutions are indicated by blue, red, and yellow bars respectively. The black curves indicate best-fitting DEMs. The DEM plots indicate the temperature distribution along these plasmoids, and these curves confirmed that the plasmoids are multithermal. The DEM peaks at log T [K] = 6.1 (1.3 MK), 6.30 (2.0 MK), 6.35 (2.2 MK), and 6.25 (1.8 MK) for FP1, FP2, SP1, and spire regions, respectively. In this case, the spire-plasmoid was slightly hotter than the footpoint-plasmoid.

The same analysis was performed for the other six time slots, and we found that the footpoint plasmoid temperatures range between log T [K] = 6.0 and 6.4 (1.0-2.5 MK), which are found to be similar to the temperatures that are obtained for spire-plasmoids (which range between log T [K] = 6.0 and 6.35 (1.0-2.24 MK)). For the spire, a lower limit to the electron number densities, Ne ranged from 2.6 to 3.2×108 cm-3 whereas for FPs (SPs), it ranged from 3.3 to 5.9×108 cm-3 (3.4-6.1×108 cm-3).

We studied the temporal evolution of temperature and density in the spire plasmoid by tracking its movement along the spire until it disappears. The double-peaked nature of DEM confirms the low (0.5 MK) as well as high temperatures (2.5 MK) plasma in spire plasmoids. The peak temperatures ranged from 1.2 to 2.24 MK and showed an initial increase and then a decrease in temperatures. A systematic rise and fall in the electron number densities were observed at the spire-plasmoid as it travels. The densities range between 2.3 and 5.0×108 cm-3.


Our study provided observational evidence for the formation of plasmoids at the base of the jets and suggest that plasmoids are induced by a tearing-mode instability. This thorough investigation shed light on the temperature and density structure of the plasmoids at the spire and the footpoint. We believe that these observational constraints provide a basis for future numerical experiments. These results were recently published in Mulay et al. (2023) [6].