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Generation of Inverted Heliospheric Magnetic Flux by Coronal Loop Opening and Slow Solar Wind Release

AuthorOwens, Mathew; Lockwood, Mike; Barnard, Luke; Macneil, Allan;
Keywordsparker solar probe; Solar Probe Plus; Solar wind; Sun: activity; Sun: corona; Sun: magnetic fields

In situ spacecraft observations provide much-needed constraints on theories of solar wind formation and release, particularly the highly variable slow solar wind, which dominates near-Earth space. Previous studies have shown an association between local inversions in the heliospheric magnetic field (HMF) and solar wind released from the vicinity of magnetically closed coronal structures. We here show that in situ properties of inverted HMF are consistent with the same hot coronal source regions as the slow solar wind. We propose that inverted HMF is produced by solar wind speed shear, which results from interchange reconnection between a coronal loop and open flux tube, and introduces a pattern of fast-slow-fast wind along a given HMF flux tube. This same loop-opening process is thought to be central to slow solar wind formation. The upcoming Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter missions provide a unique opportunity to directly observe these processes and thus determine the origin of the slow solar wind.

Year of Publication2018
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Number of PagesL14
Date Published11/2018