Probing Current Sheet Instabilities from Flare Ribbon Dynamics

Ryan J. French*, Sarah A. Matthews, I. Jonathan Rae, Andrew W. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The presence of current sheet instabilities, such as the tearing mode instability, are needed to account for the observed rate of energy release in solar flares. Insights into these current sheet dynamics can be revealed by the behavior of flare ribbon substructure, as magnetic reconnection accelerates particles down newly reconnected field lines into the chromosphere to mark the flare footpoints. Behavior in the ribbons can therefore be used to probe processes occurring in the current sheet. In this study, we use high-cadence (1.7 s) IRIS Slit Jaw Imager observations to probe for the growth and evolution of key spatial scales along the flare ribbons - resulting from dynamics across the current sheet of a small solar flare on 2016 December 6. Combining analyses of spatial scale growth with Si iv nonthermal velocities, we piece together a timeline of flare onset for this confined event, and provide evidence of the tearing mode instability triggering a cascade and inverse cascade toward a power spectrum consistent with plasma turbulence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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