The stability properties of partial-toroidal flux ropes are studied in detail in the laboratory, motivated by ubiquitous arched magnetic structures found on the solar surface. The flux ropes studied here are magnetized arc discharges formed between two electrodes in the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX) Yamada, Phys. Plasmas 4, 1936 (1997). The three dimensional evolution of these flux ropes is monitored by a fast visible light framing camera, while their magnetic structure is measured by a variety of internal magnetic probes. The flux ropes are consistently observed to undergo large-scale oscillations as a result of an external kink instability. Using detailed scans of the plasma current, the guide field strength, and the length of the flux rope, we show that the threshold for kink stability is governed by the Kruskal-Shafranov limit for a flux rope that is held fixed at both ends (i.e., qa = 1).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Condensed Matter Physics