Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) kink waves are ubiquitously observed in the solar atmosphere. The propagation and damping of these waves may play relevant roles for the transport and dissipation of energy in the solar atmospheric medium. However, in the atmospheric plasma dissipation of transverse MHD wave energy by viscosity or resistivity needs very small spatial scales to be efficient. Here, we theoretically investigate the generation of small scales in nonuniform solar magnetic flux tubes due to phase mixing of MHD kink waves. We go beyond the usual approach based on the existence of a global quasi-mode that is damped in time due to resonant absorption. Instead, we use a modal expansion to express the MHD kink wave as a superposition of Alfvén continuum modes that are phase mixed as time evolves. The comparison of the two techniques evidences that the modal analysis is more physically transparent and describes both the damping of global kink motions and the building up of small scales due to phase mixing. In addition, we discuss that the processes of resonant absorption and phase mixing are intimately linked. They represent two aspects of the same underlying physical mechanism: the energy cascade from large scales to small scales due to naturally occurring plasma and/or magnetic field inhomogeneities. This process may provide the necessary scenario for efficient dissipation of transverse MHD wave energy in the solar atmospheric plasma.
Authors: Roberto Soler and Jaume Terradas
Publication Status: Accepted in ApJ
Last Modified: 2015-02-18 12:14