On the temperature profile and heat flux in the solar corona: Kinetic simulations
Département de Recherche Spatiale, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, 92195 Meudon Cedex, France
Corresponding author: F. G. E. Pantellini, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 26 March 2001
In the solar corona the collisional mean free path λ for a thermal particle (electrons or protons) is of the order of 10-2 to 10-4 times the typical scale of variation H of macroscopic quantities like the density or the temperature. Despite the relative smallness of the ratio , an increasingly large number of authors have become convinced that the heat flux in such a plasma cannot be described satisfactorily by theories which suppose that the local particle velocity distribution functions are close to Maxwellian. We address this question through kinetic simulations of the low solar corona by assuming that non thermal velocity distribution functions are present at the base of the corona. In particular, we show that if one assumes that the electron velocity distribution functions at the base of the corona have sufficiently strong suprathermal power law tails, the heat flux may flow upwards, i.e. in the direction of increasing temperature. Using kappa velocity distribution functions as prototypes for non thermal velocity distributions, we find that the heat conduction can be properly described by the classical Spitzer & Härm (1953) law provided the kappa index is . This value is much smaller than the value previously found by Dorelli & Scudder (1999). In addition we show that, unless extremely strong power law tails are assumed near the base of the corona (i.e. ), a local heating mechanism (e.g. waves) is needed to sustain the temperature gradient between the base of the corona and the coronal temperature maximum.
Key words: Sun: corona / methods: numerical / plasmas / conduction
© ESO, 2001