The Width, Density, and Outflow of Solar Coronal Streamers

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Characterizing the large-scale structure and plasma properties of the inner corona is crucial to understanding the source and subsequent expansion of the solar wind and related space weather effects. Here, we apply a new coronal rotational tomography method, along with a method to narrow streamers and refine the density estimate, to COR2A/Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory observations from a period near solar minimum and maximum, gaining density maps for heights between 4 and 8R o˙. The coronal structure is highly radial at these heights, and the streamers are very narrow: in some regions, only a few degrees in width. The mean densities of streamers is almost identical between solar minimum and maximum. However, streamers at solar maximum contain around 50% more total mass due to their larger area. By assuming a constant mass flux, and constraints on proton flux measured by Parker Solar Probe (PSP), we estimate an outflow speed within solar minimum streamers of 50-120 kms-1 at 4R o˙, increasing to 90-250 kms-1 at 8R o˙. Accelerations of around 6 ms-2 are found for streamers at a height of 4R o˙, decreasing with height. The solar maximum slow wind shows a higher acceleration to extended distances compared with solar minimum. To satisfy the solar wind speeds measured by PSP, there must be a mean residual acceleration of around 1-2 ms-2 between 8 and 40R o˙. Several aspects of this study strongly suggest that the coronal streamer belt density is highly variable on small scales, and that the tomography can only reveal a local spatial and temporal average.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


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