Contribution of mode-coupling and phase-mixing of Alfvén waves to coronal heating

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Context. Phase-mixing of Alfvén waves in the solar corona has been identified as one possible candidate to explain coronal heating. While this scenario is supported by observations of ubiquitous oscillations in the corona carrying sufficient wave energy and by theoretical models that have described the concentration of energy in small-scale structures, it is still unclear whether this wave energy can be converted into thermal energy in order to maintain the million-degree hot solar corona.

Aims. The aim of this work is to assess how much energy can be converted into thermal energy by a phase-mixing process triggered by the propagation of Alfvénic waves in a cylindric coronal structure, such as a coronal loop, and to estimate the impact of this conversion on the coronal heating and thermal structure of the solar corona.

Methods. To this end, we ran 3D MHD simulations of a magnetised cylinder where the Alfvén speed varies through a boundary shell, and a footpoint driver is set to trigger kink modes that mode couple to torsional Alfvén modes in the boundary shell. These Alfvén waves are expected to phase-mix, and the system allows us to study the subsequent thermal energy deposition. We ran a reference simulation to explain the main process and then we varied the simulation parameters, such as the size of the boundary shell, its structure, and the persistence of the driver.

Results. When we take high values of magnetic resistivity and strong footpoint drivers into consideration, we find that i) phase-mixing leads to a temperature increase of the order of 105 K or less, depending on the structure of the boundary shell, ii) this energy is able to balance the radiative losses only in the localised region involved in the heating, and iii) we can determine the influence of the boundary layer and the persistence of the driver on the thermal structure of the system.

Conclusions. Our conclusion is that as a result of the extreme physical parameters we adopted and the moderate impact on the heating of the system, it is unlikely that phase-mixing can contribute on a global scale to the heating of the solar corona.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA107
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2017


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: oscillations
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Waves


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