Phase Mixing of Propagating Alfvén Waves in a Single-fluid Partially Ionized Solar Plasma

Max Mcmurdo

Hosted by Plasma Dynamics Group, University of Sheffield, UK on January 25, 2024


The phase mixing of Alfvén waves is one of the most promising mechanisms for the heating of the solar atmosphere. The damping of waves in this case requires small transversal scales, relative to the magnetic field direction; this requirement is achieved by considering a transversal inhomogeneity in the equilibrium plasma density profile. Using a single-fluid approximation of a partially ionized chromospheric plasma, we study the effectiveness of the damping of phase-mixed shear Alfvén waves and investigate the effect of varying the ionization degree on the dissipation of waves. Our results show that the dissipation length of shear Alfvén waves strongly depends on the ionization degree of the plasma, but more importantly, in a partially ionized plasma, the damping length of shear Alfvén waves is several orders of magnitude shorter than in the case of a fully ionized plasma, providing evidence that phase mixing could be a large contributor to heating the solar chromosphere. The effectiveness of phase mixing is investigated for various ionization degrees, ranging from very weakly to very strongly ionized plasmas. Our results show that phase-mixed propagating Alfvén waves with a modest amplitude of 2.5 kms^-1 in a partially ionized plasma with ionization degrees in the range μ = 0.518-0.657, corresponding to heights of 1916-2150 km above the solar surface, can provide sufficient heating to balance chromospheric radiative losses in the quiet Sun.

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