Observations of the solar wind from coronal holes
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The solar wind emanating from coronal holes (CH) constitutes a quasi-stationary flow whose properties change only slowly with the evolution of the hole itself. Some of the properties of the wind from coronal holes depend on whether the source is a large polar coronal hole or a small near-equatorial hole. The speed of polar CH flows is usually between 700 and 800 km/s, whereas the speed from the small equatorial CH flows is generally lower and can be <400 km/s. At 1 AU, the average particle and energy fluxes from polar CH are 2.5×108 cm−2 sec−1 and 2.0 erg cm−2 s−1. This particle flux is significantly less than the 4×108 cm−2 sec−1 observed in the slow, interstream wind, but the energy fluxes are approximately the same. Both the particle and energy fluxes from small equatorial holes are somewhat smaller than the fluxes from the large polar coronal holes.
Many of the properties of the wind from coronal holes can be explained, at least qualitatively, as being the result of the effect of the large flux of outward-propagating Alfvén waves observed in CH flows. The different ion species have roughly equal thermal speeds which are also close to the Alfvén speed. The velocity of heavy ions exceeds the proton velocity by the Alfvén speed, as if the heavy ions were surfing on the waves carried by the proton fluid.
The elemental composition of the CH wind is less fractionated, having a smaller enhancement of elements with low first-ionization potentials than the interstream wind, the wind from coronal mass ejections, or solar energetic particles. There is also evidence of fine-structure in the ratio of the gas and magnetic pressures which maps back to a scale size of roughly 1° at the Sun, similar to some of the fine structures in coronal holes such as plumes, macrospicules, and the supergranulation.
Key wordsSun Solar Wind Coronal Holes
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