The role of Alfvén wave heating in solar prominences
1 Departament de FísicaUniversitat de les Illes Balears, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2 Institut d’Aplicacions Computacionals de Codi Comunitari (IAC 3), Universitat de les Illes Balears, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Received: 15 April 2016
Accepted: 23 May 2016
Observations have shown that magnetohydrodynamic waves over a large frequency range are ubiquitous in solar prominences. The waves are probably driven by photospheric motions and may transport energy up to prominences suspended in the corona. Dissipation of wave energy can lead to heating of the cool prominence plasma, thereby contributing to the local energy balance within the prominence. Here we discuss the role of Alfvén wave dissipation as a heating mechanism for the prominence plasma. We consider a slab-like quiescent prominence model with a transverse magnetic field embedded in the solar corona. The prominence medium is modeled as a partially ionized plasma composed of a charged ion-electron single fluid and two separate neutral fluids corresponding to neutral hydrogen and neutral helium. Friction between the three fluids acts as a dissipative mechanism for the waves. The heating caused by Alfvén waves incident on the prominence slab is analytically explored. We find that the dense prominence slab acts as a resonant cavity for the waves. The fraction of incident wave energy that is channeled into the slab strongly depends upon the wave period, P. Using typical prominence conditions, we obtain that wave energy trapping and associated heating are negligible when P ≳ 100 s, so that it is unlikely that those waves have a relevant influence on prominence energetics. When 1 s ≲ P ≲ 100 s the energy absorption into the slab shows several sharp and narrow peaks that can reach up to ~100% when the incident wave frequency matches a cavity resonance of the slab. Wave heating is enhanced at those resonant frequencies. Conversely, when P ≲ 1 s cavity resonances are absent, but the waves are heavily damped by the strong dissipation. We estimate that wave heating may compensate for about 10% of radiative losses of the prominence plasma.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: atmosphere / Sun: corona / Sun: filaments, prominences / Sun: oscillations / waves
© ESO, 2016