Volume 532, August 2011
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Published online||09 August 2011|
Kinematical evidence for physically different classes of large-scale coronal EUV waves
Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
Received: 9 February 2011
Accepted: 28 May 2011
Context. Large-scale wavelike disturbances have been observed in the solar corona in the EUV range since more than a decade. The physical nature of these so-called “EIT waves” is still being debated controversially. The two main contenders are on the one hand MHD waves and/or shocks, and on the other hand magnetic reconfiguration in the framework of an expanding CME. There is a lot of observational evidence backing either one or the other scenario, and no single model has been able to reproduce all observational constraints, which are partly even contradictory. This suggests that there may actually exist different classes of coronal waves that are caused by distinct physical processes. Then, the problems in interpreting coronal waves would be mainly caused by mixing together different physical processes.
Aims. We search for evidence for physically different classes of large-scale coronal EUV waves.
Methods. Kinematics is the most important characteristic of any moving disturbance, hence we focus on this aspect of coronal waves. Identifying distinct event classes requires a large event sample, which is up to now only available from SOHO/EIT. We analyze the kinematics of a sample of 176 EIT waves. In order to check if the results are severely affected by the low cadence of EIT, we complement this with high-cadence data for 17 events from STEREO/EUVI. In particular, we focus on the wave speeds and their evolution.
Results. Based on their kinematical behavior, we find evidence for three distinct populations of coronal EUV waves: initially fast waves (v ≥ 320 km s-1) that show pronounced deceleration (class 1 events), waves with moderate (v ≈ 170−320 km s-1) and nearly constant speeds (class 2), and slow waves (v ≤ 130 km s-1) showing a rather erratic behavior (class 3).
Conclusions. The kinematical behavior of the fast decelerating disturbances is consistent with nonlinear large-amplitude waves or shocks that propagate faster than the ambient fast-mode speed and subsequently slow down due to decreasing amplitude. The waves with moderate speeds are consistent with linear waves moving at the local fast-mode speed. Thus both populations can be explained in terms of the wave/shock model. The slow perturbations with erratic behavior, on the other hand, are not consistent with this scenario. These disturbances could well be due to magnetic reconfiguration.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: corona / Sun: flares / Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs) / waves / shock waves
© ESO, 2011
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