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Steven R Cranmer   Submitted: 2008-02-06 08:08

We present a detailed analysis of oxygen ion velocity distributions in the extended solar corona, based on observations made with the Ultraviolet Coronagraph Spectrometer (UVCS) on the SOHO spacecraft. Polar coronal holes at solar minimum are known to exhibit broad line widths and unusual intensity ratios of the O VI 1032, 1037 emission line doublet. The traditional interpretation of these features has been that oxygen ions have a strong temperature anisotropy, with the temperature perpendicular to the magnetic field being much larger than the temperature parallel to the field. However, recent work by Raouafi and Solanki suggested that it may be possible to model the observations using an isotropic velocity distribution. In this paper we analyze an expanded data set to show that the original interpretation of an anisotropic distribution is the only one that is fully consistent with the observations. It is necessary to search the full range of ion plasma parameters to determine the values with the highest probability of agreement with the UVCS data. The derived ion outflow speeds and perpendicular kinetic temperatures are consistent with earlier results, and there continues to be strong evidence for preferential ion heating and acceleration with respect to hydrogen. At heliocentric heights above 2.1 solar radii, every UVCS data point is more consistent with an anisotropic distribution than with an isotropic distribution. At heights above 3 solar radii, the exact probability of isotropy depends on the electron density chosen to simulate the line-of-sight distribution of O VI emissivity. The most realistic electron densities (which decrease steeply from 3 to 6 solar radii) produce the lowest probabilities of isotropy and most-probable temperature anisotropy ratios that exceed 10. We also use UVCS O VI absolute intensities to compute the frozen-in O5+ ion concentration in the extended corona; the resulting range of values is roughly consistent with recent downward revisions in the oxygen abundance.

Authors: Steven R. Cranmer, Alexander V. Panasyuk, and John L. Kohl
Projects: None

Publication Status: ApJ, in press (v. 679; May 20, 2008), arXiv:0802.0144
Last Modified: 2008-02-06 13:42
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