Non-equilibrium ionization by a periodic electron beam
II. Synthetic Si IV and O IV transition region spectra★
Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences,
Ondřejov, Czech Republic
Accepted: 11 November 2017
Context. Transition region (TR) spectra typically show the Si IV 1402.8 Å line to be enhanced by a factor of 5 or more compared to the neighboring O IV 1401.2 Å, contrary to predictions of ionization equilibrium models and the Maxwellian distribution of particle energies. Non-equilibrium effects in TR spectra are therefore expected.
Aims. To investigate the combination of non-equilibrium ionization and high-energy particles, we apply the model of the periodic electron beam, represented by a κ-distribution that recurs at periods of several seconds, to plasma at chromospheric temperatures of 104 K. This simple model can approximate a burst of energy release involving accelerated particles.
Methods. Instantaneous time-dependent charge states of silicon and oxygen were calculated and used to synthesize the instantaneous and period-averaged spectra of Si IV and O IV.
Results. The electron beam drives the plasma out of equilibrium. At electron densities of Ne = 1010 cm−3, the plasma is out of ionization equilibrium at all times in all cases we considered, while for a higher density of Ne = 1011 cm−3, ionization equilibrium can be reached toward the end of each period, depending on the conditions. In turn, the character of the period-averaged synthetic spectra also depends on the properties of the beam. While the case of κ = 2 results in spectra with strong or even dominant O IV, higher values of κ can approximate a range of observed TR spectra. Spectra similar to typically observed spectra, with the Si IV 1402.8 Å line about a factor 5 higher than O IV 1401.2 Å, are obtained for κ = 3. An even higher value of κ = 5 results in spectra that are exclusively dominated by Si IV, with negligible O IV emission. This is a possible interpretation of the TR spectra of UV (Ellerman) bursts, although an interpretation that requires a density that is 1–3 orders of magnitude lower than for equilibrium estimates.
Key words: Sun: UV radiation / Sun: transition region / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal
Movies associated to Fig. A.1 are available at http://www.aanda.org
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