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The Dynamic Evolution of Solar Wind Streams Following Interchange Reconnection

AuthorScott, Roger; Bradshaw, Stephen; Linton, Mark;
KeywordsParker Data Used; Solar wind; Solar magnetic reconnection; Solar magnetic fields; Solar corona; Heliosphere; 1534; 1504; 1503; 1483; 711; Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Physics - Plasma Physics; Physics - Space Physics
AbstractInterchange reconnection is thought to play an important role in determining the dynamics and material composition of the slow solar wind that originates from near coronal-hole boundaries. To explore the implications of this process we simulate the dynamic evolution of a solar wind stream along a newly-opened magnetic flux tube. The initial condition is composed of a piecewise continuous dynamic equilibrium in which the regions above and below the reconnection site are extracted from steady-state solutions along open and closed field lines. The initial discontinuity at the reconnection site is highly unstable and evolves as a Riemann problem, decomposing into an outward- propagating shock and inward-propagating rarefaction that eventually develop into a classic N-wave configuration. This configuration ultimately propagates into the heliosphere as a coherent structure and the entire system eventually settles to a quasi-steady wind solution. In addition to simulating the fluid evolution we also calculate the time-dependent non-equilibrium ionization of oxygen in real time in order to construct in situ diagnostics of the conditions near the reconnection site. This idealized description of the plasma dynamics along a newly- opened magnetic field line provides a baseline for predicting and interpreting the implications of interchange reconnection for the slow solar wind. Notably, the density and velocity within the expanding N-wave are generally enhanced over the ambient wind, as is the O$^7+$/O$^6+$ ionization ratio, which exhibits a discontinuity across the reconnection site that is transported by the flow and arrives later than the propagating N-wave.
Year of Publication2022
Number of Pages72
Date Publishedjul