A comparative study of resistivity models for simulations of magnetic reconnection in the solar atmosphere

Færder, Ø. H.; Nóbrega-Siverio, D.; Carlsson, M.
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Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Context. Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental mechanism in astrophysics. A common challenge in mimicking this process numerically in particular for the Sun is that the solar electrical resistivity is small compared to the diffusive effects caused by the discrete nature of codes.
Aims: We aim to study different anomalous resistivity models and their respective effects on simulations related to magnetic reconnection in the Sun.
Methods: We used the Bifrost code to perform a 2D numerical reconnection experiment in the corona that is driven by converging opposite polarities at the solar surface. This experiment was run with three different commonly used resistivity models: 1) the hyper-diffusion model originally implemented in Bifrost, 2) a resistivity proportional to the current density, and 3) a resistivity proportional to the square of the electron drift velocity. The study was complemented with a 1D experiment of a Harris current sheet with the same resistivity models.
Results: The 2D experiment shows that the three resistivity models are capable of producing results in satisfactory agreement with each other in terms of the current sheet length, inflow velocity, and Poynting influx. Even though Petschek-like reconnection occurred with the current density-proportional resistivity while the other two cases mainly followed plasmoid-mediated reconnection, the large-scale evolution of thermodynamical quantities such as temperature and density are quite similar between the three cases. For the 1D experiment, some recalibration of the diffusion parameters is needed to obtain comparable results. Specifically the hyper-diffusion and the drift velocity-dependent resistivity model needed only minor adjustments, while the current density-proportional model needed a rescaling of several orders of magnitude.
Conclusions: The Bifrost hyper-diffusion model is as suitable for simulations of magnetic reconnection as other common resistivity models and has the advantage of being applicable to any region in the solar atmosphere without the need for significant recalibration.

Movie associated to Fig. 3 is available at https://www.aanda.org.

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