The Creation of Outflowing Plasma in the Corona at Emerging Flux Regions: Comparing Observations and Simulations
In this paper we analyse the flux emergence that occurred in the following polarity area of an active region on 1 - 2 December 2006. Observations have revealed the existence of fast outflows at the edge of the emerging flux region. We have performed 3-D numerical simulations to study the mechanisms responsible for these flows. The results indicate that these outflows are reconnection jets or pressure-driven outflows, depending on the relative orientation of the magnetic fields in contact ( i.e. the emerging flux and the active region's field which is favourable for reconnection on the west side and nearly parallel with the pre-existing field on the east side of the emerging flux). In the observations, the flows are larger on the west side until late in the flux emergence, when the reverse is true. The simulations show that the flows are faster on the west side, but do not show the east flows increasing with time. There is an asymmetry in the expansion of the emerging flux region, which is also seen in the observations. The west side of the emerging flux region expands faster into the corona than the other side. In the simulations, efficient magnetic reconnection occurs on the west side, with new loops being created containing strong downflows that are clearly seen in the observations. On the other side, the simulations show strong compression as the dominant mechanism for the generation of flows. There is evidence of these flows in the observations, but the flows are stronger than the simulations predict at the later stages. There could be additional small-angle reconnection that adds to the flows from the compression, as well as reconnection occurring in larger loops that lie across the whole active region.