, Volume 172, Issue 1-4, pp 209-225
Date: 29 Mar 2011

On the Role of Interchange Reconnection in the Generation of the Slow Solar Wind

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The heating of the solar corona and therefore the generation of the solar wind, remain an active area of solar and heliophysics research. Several decades of in situ solar wind plasma observations have revealed a rich bimodal solar wind structure, well correlated with coronal magnetic field activity. Therefore, the reconnection processes associated with the large-scale dynamics of the corona likely play a major role in the generation of the slow solar wind flow regime. In order to elucidate the relationship between reconnection-driven coronal magnetic field structure and dynamics and the generation of the slow solar wind, this paper reviews the observations and phenomenology of the solar wind and coronal magnetic field structure. The geometry and topology of nested flux systems, and the (interchange) reconnection process, in the context of coronal physics is then explained. Once these foundations are laid out, the paper summarizes several fully dynamic, 3D MHD calculations of the global coronal system. Finally, the results of these calculations justify a number of important implications and conclusions on the role of reconnection in the structural dynamics of the coronal magnetic field and the generation of the solar wind.

This work was presented at the International Space Science Institute workshop on the “Multi-scale physics in coronal heating and solar wind acceleration—from the Sun into the inner heliosphere”, 25–29 January 2010.