Coronal heating and solar wind generation by flux cancellation reconnection

D. I. Pontin*, E. R. Priest, L. P. Chitta, V. S. Titov

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

In this paper, we propose that flux cancellation on small granular scales (≲1000 km) ubiquitously drives reconnection at a multitude of sites in the low solar atmosphere, contributing to chromospheric/coronal heating and the generation of the solar wind. We analyze the energy conversion in these small-scale flux cancellation events using both analytical models and three-dimensional, resistive magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations. The analytical models—in combination with the latest estimates of flux cancellation rates—allow us to estimate the energy release rates due to cancellation events, which are found to be on the order 106–107 erg cm−2 s−1, sufficient to heat the chromosphere and corona of the quiet Sun and active regions, and to power the solar wind. The MHD simulations confirm the conversion of energy in reconnecting current sheets, in a geometry representing a small-scale bipole being advected toward an intergranular lane. A ribbon-like jet of heated plasma that is accelerated upward could also escape the Sun as the solar wind in an open-field configuration. We conclude that through two phases of atmospheric energy release—precancellation and cancellation—the cancellation of photospheric magnetic flux fragments and the associated magnetic reconnection may provide a substantial energy and mass flux contribution to coronal heating and solar wind generation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume960
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Solar wind
  • Solar coronal heating
  • Solar chromospheric heating
  • Solar physics
  • Solar magnetic fields
  • Solar magnetic reconnection

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