Plasma in the Sun’s hot corona expands into the heliosphere as a supersonic and highly magnetized solar wind. This paper provides an overview of our current understanding of how the corona is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated. Recent models of magnetohydrodynamic turbulence have progressed to the point of successfully predicting many observed properties of this complex, multi-scale system. However, it is not clear whether the heating in open-field regions comes mainly from the dissipation of turbulent fluctuations that are launched from the solar surface, or whether the chaotic “magnetic carpet” in the low corona energizes the system via magnetic reconnection. To help pin down the physics, we also review some key observational results from ultraviolet spectroscopy of the collisionless outer corona.
S. Cranmer, M. Asgari-Targhi, M. Miralles, et. al.
Tue, 9 Dec 14
Comments: Accepted for publication in Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. A, theme issue on “Dissipation and Heating in Solar Wind Plasma Turbulence,” edited by K. Kiyani, K. Osman, and S. Chapman. 17 pages, 2 figures