AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 59. Active Region Formation and Evolution
Solar, Oral, Tuesday, June 1, 1999, 2:30-4:00pm, Continental Ballroom C

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[59.03] The Emergence of Kink-Unstable Magnetic Flux Tubes and the Origin of \delta-Configuration Sunspots

Y. Fan (HAO/NCAR), E.G. Zweibel (JILA/CU), M.G. Linton (NRL), G.H. Fisher (SSL/UC Berkeley)

The so-called \delta-configuration sunspots are an unusual class of compact sunspots in which umbrae of opposite polarities are gathered closely in a common penumbra, and the polarity order is often inverted from Hale's polarity law. One appealing suggestion for the origin of the \delta-spots, is that they are formed through the emergence of flux tubes that have become kinked (or knotted) due to the onset of the current driven kink instability. In this talk I present 3D simulations of the non-linear evolution of the helical kink instability of twisted magnetic flux tubes rising buoyantly through an adiabatically stratified layer. We study the kink evolution of buoyant flux tubes with a range of different initial twist. We find that in order for the tube to develop significant kinking during its rise, the initial twist of the tube needs to be close to or greater than the critical limit for the onset of the kink instability. If the initial twist is sufficiently super-critical such that the e-folding period of the fastest growing kink mode is small compared to the rise time of the tube, we find that sharp bending and distortion of the tube develop. Due to the effect of gravitational stratification, the kinked flux tube arches upward and evolves into a buckled loop with a local change of tube orientation at the loop apex that exceeds 90\circ from the original direction of the tube. I will discuss the similarities and differences between the structure of the buckled emerging flux loop and the magnetic field morphology of several \delta-spots.

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