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Physics  2012 

Interchange reconnection in a turbulent Corona

DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/758/1/L14

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Magnetic reconnection at the interface between coronal holes and loops, so-called interchange reconnection, can release the hotter, denser plasma from magnetically confined regions into the heliosphere, contributing to the formation of the highly variable slow solar wind. The interchange process is often thought to develop at the apex of streamers or pseudo-streamers, near Y and X-type neutral points, but slow streams with loop composition have been recently observed along fanlike open field lines adjacent to closed regions, far from the apex. However, coronal heating models, with magnetic field lines shuffled by convective motions, show that reconnection can occur continuously in unipolar magnetic field regions with no neutral points: photospheric motions induce a magnetohydrodynamic turbulent cascade in the coronal field that creates the necessary small scales, where a sheared magnetic field component orthogonal to the strong axial field is created locally and can reconnect. We propose that a similar mechanism operates near and around boundaries between open and closed regions inducing a continual stochastic rearrangement of connectivity. We examine a reduced magnetohydrodynamic model of a simplified interface region between open and closed corona threaded by a strong unipolar magnetic field. This boundary is not stationary, becomes fractal, and field lines change connectivity continuously, becoming alternatively open and closed. This model suggests that slow wind may originate everywhere along loop-coronal hole boundary regions, and can account naturally and simply for outflows at and adjacent to such boundaries and for the observed diffusion of slow wind around the heliospheric current sheet.


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