There is observational evidence of the presence of small-amplitude transverse magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) waves with a wide range of frequencies in the threads of solar prominences. It is believed that the waves are driven at the photosphere and propagate along the magnetic field lines up to prominences suspended in the corona. The dissipation of MHD wave energy in the partially ionized prominence plasma is a heating mechanism whose relevance needs to be explored. Here we consider a simple 1D model for a non-uniform thin thread and investigate the heating associated with dissipation of Alfvén waves. The model assumes an ad hoc density profile and a uniform pressure, while the temperature and ionization degree are self-consistently computed considering either LTE or non-LTE approximations for the hydrogen ionization. A broadband driver for Alfvén waves is placed at one end of the magnetic field line, representing photospheric excitation. The Alfvénic perturbations along the thread are obtained by solving the linearized MHD equations for a partially ionized plasma in the single-fluid approximation.We find that wave heating in the partially ionized part of the thread is significant enough to compensate for energy losses due to radiative cooling. A greater amount of heating is found in the LTE case because the ionization degree for core prominence temperatures is lower than that in the non-LTE approximation. This results in a greater level of dissipation due to ambipolar diffusion in the LTE case. Conversely, in the hot coronal part of the model, the plasma is fully ionized and wave heating is negligible. The results of this simple model suggest that MHD wave heating can be relevant for the energy balance in prominences. Further studies based on more elaborate models are required.
Authors: Llorenç Melis, Roberto Soler, and José Luis Ballester
Publication Status: A&A (accepted)
Last Modified: 2021-04-01 13:50