, Volume 172, Issue 1-4, pp 69-87
Date: 23 May 2012

Recent Observations of Plasma and Alfvénic Wave Energy Injection at the Base of the Fast Solar Wind

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We take stock of recent observations that identify the episodic plasma heating and injection of Alfvénic energy at the base of fast solar wind (in coronal holes). The plasma heating is associated with the occurrence of chromospheric spicules that leave the lower solar atmosphere at speeds of order 100 km/s, the hotter coronal counterpart of the spicule emits radiation characteristic of root heating that rapidly reaches temperatures of the order of 1 MK. Furthermore, the same spicules and their coronal counterparts (“Propagating Coronal Disturbances”; PCD) exhibit large amplitude, high speed, Alfvénic (transverse) motion of sufficient energy content to accelerate the material to high speeds. We propose that these (disjointed) heating and accelerating components form a one-two punch to supply, and then accelerate, the fast solar wind. We consider some compositional constraints on this concept, extend the premise to the slow solar wind, and identify future avenues of exploration.