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Formation of Heliospheric Arcs of Slow Solar Wind

Higginson, A.K.; Antiochos, S.K.; DeVore, C.R.; Wyper, P.F.; Zurbuchen, T.H.

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A.K. Higginson

S.K. Antiochos

C.R. DeVore

T.H. Zurbuchen


A major challenge in solar and heliospheric physics is understanding the origin and nature of the so-called slow solar wind. The Sun's atmosphere is divided into magnetically open regions, known as coronal holes, where the plasma streams out freely and fills the solar system, and closed regions, where the plasma is confined to coronal loops. The boundary between these regions extends outward as the heliospheric current sheet (HCS). Measurements of plasma composition strongly imply that much of the slow wind consists of plasma from the closed corona that escapes onto open field lines, presumably by field-line opening or by interchange reconnection. Both of these processes are expected to release closed-field plasma into the solar wind within and immediately adjacent to the HCS. Mysteriously, however, slow wind with closed-field plasma composition is often observed in situ far from the HCS. We use high-resolution, three-dimensional, magnetohydrodynamic simulations to calculate the dynamics of a coronal hole with a geometry that includes a narrow corridor flanked by closed field and is driven by supergranule-like flows at the coronal-hole boundary. These dynamics produce giant arcs of closed-field plasma that originate at the open-closed boundary in the corona, but extend far from the HCS and span tens of degrees in latitude and longitude at Earth. We conclude that such structures can account for the long-puzzling slow-wind observations.


Higginson, A., Antiochos, S., DeVore, C., Wyper, P., & Zurbuchen, T. (2017). Formation of Heliospheric Arcs of Slow Solar Wind. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 840(1), Article L10.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 15, 2017
Online Publication Date May 3, 2017
Publication Date May 3, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2017
Journal Astrophysical Journal Letters
Print ISSN 2041-8205
Electronic ISSN 2041-8213
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 840
Issue 1
Article Number L10


Published Journal Article (1.5 Mb)

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© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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