How numerical treatments of the transition region modify energy flux into the solar corona

Thomas Alexander Howson*, Cosima Alexandra Breu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The large temperature gradients in the solar transition region present a significant challenge to large-scale numerical modelling of the Sun’s atmosphere. In response, a variety of techniques have been developed which modify the thermodynamics of the system. This sacrifices accuracy in the transition region in favour of accurately tracking the coronal response to heating events. Invariably, the modification leads to an artificial broadening of the transition region. Meanwhile, many contemporary models of the solar atmosphere rely on tracking energy flux from the lower atmosphere, through the transition region and into the corona. In this paper, we quantify how the thermodynamic modifications affect the rate of energy injection into the corona. We consider a series of one-dimensional models of atmospheric loops with different numerical resolutions and treatments of the thermodynamics. Then, using Alfvén waves as a proxy, we consider how energy injection rates are modified in each case. We find that the thermodynamic treatment and the numerical resolution significantly modify Alfvén traveltimes, the eigenfrequencies and eigenmodes of the system, and the rate at which energy is injected into the corona. Alarmingly, we find that the modification of the energy flux is frequency dependent, meaning that it may be difficult to compare the effects of different velocity drivers on coronal heating if they are imposed below an under-resolved transition region, even if the sophisticated thermodynamic adaptations are implemented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499–511
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date23 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Sun: oscillations
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: transition region


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