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Outstanding Questions of Coronal Heating and Solar Wind Physics

Presentation #107.01 in the session Coronal Heating: Present Understanding and Future Progress II.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Outstanding Questions of Coronal Heating and Solar Wind Physics

The solar corona is hundreds of times hotter than the visible surface below. The details of the physical mechanisms involved in energizing the solar atmosphere continue to elude scientists. This plasma flows outward from the Sun, becoming the solar wind, where it reaches super-Alfvénic speeds, filling the solar system and defining the heliosphere. There have been remote observations of the solar corona for centuries, and in situ measurements of the solar wind for almost 60 years. Computer simulation capabilities have vastly improved, and simulation techniques of the coupling between the solar atmosphere and solar wind continue to advance. Yet there are longstanding, major unsolved questions of how the corona is heated and the solar wind is formed that involve universal physical processes such as magnetic reconnection, turbulence, and waves. These questions remain because observations and simulations are limited to narrow aspects of physics and/or system, and thus cannot capture cross-scale and cross-region coupling. Coronal heating is linked to the different pathways of solar wind formation, leaving imprints in solar wind structures that survive to Earth, and ultimately affect the driving of Geospace dynamics. We discuss how coronal heating and solar wind physics requires new observations and simulation capabilities to link the kinetic scales, through the mesoscales, to the global processes.

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