Volume 596, December 2016
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Published online||28 November 2016|
Suprathermal electron distributions in the solar transition region
1 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
2 Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Fricova 298, 251 65 Ondrejov, Czech Republic
Received: 29 June 2016
Accepted: 2 October 2016
Context. Suprathermal tails are a common feature of solar wind electron velocity distributions, and are expected in the solar corona. From the corona, suprathermal electrons can propagate through the steep temperature gradient of the transition region towards the chromosphere, and lead to non-Maxwellian electron velocity distribution functions (VDFs) with pronounced suprathermal tails.
Aims. We calculate the evolution of a coronal electron distribution through the transition region in order to quantify the suprathermal electron population there.
Methods. A kinetic model for electrons is used, which is based on solving the Boltzmann-Vlasov equation for electrons including Coulomb collisions with both ions and electrons. Initial and chromospheric boundary conditions are Maxwellian VDFs with densities and temperatures based on a background fluid model. The coronal boundary condition has been adopted from earlier studies of suprathermal electron formation in coronal loops.
Results. The model results show the presence of strong suprathermal tails in transition region electron VDFs, starting at energies of a few 10 eV. Above electron energies of 600 eV, electrons can traverse the transition region essentially collision-free.
Conclusions. The presence of strong suprathermal tails in transition region electron VDFs shows that the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium is not justified there. This has a significant impact on ionization dynamics, as is shown in a companion paper.
Key words: Sun: transition region / plasmas / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2016
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