Rayleigh-Taylor type Instabilities in the Reconnection Exhaust Jet as a Mechanism for Supra-arcade Downflows

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Journal Article

Supra-arcade downflows (hereafter referred to as SADs) are low-emission, elongated, finger-like features usually observed in active-region coronae above post-eruption flare arcades. Observations exhibit downward moving SADs intertwined with bright upward moving spikes. Whereas SADs are dark voids, spikes are brighter, denser structures. Although SADs have been observed for decades, the mechanism of formation of SADs remains an open issue. In our three-dimensional resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulations, we demonstrate that secondary Rayleigh-Taylor type instabilities develop in the downstream region of a reconnecting current sheet. The instability results in the formation of low-density coherent structures that resemble SADs, and high-density structures that appear to be spike-like. Comparison between the simulation results and observations suggests that secondary Rayleigh-Taylor type instabilities in the exhaust of reconnecting current sheets provide a plausible mechanism for observed SADs and spikes.

Astrophys. J. Letters
Date Published