Coronal hole boundaries evolution at small scales: II. XRT view
Can small-scale outflows at CHBs be a source of the slow solar wind?

S. Subramanian, M. S. Madjarska and J. G. Doyle

Fig. 1. Equatorial coronal hole (top left), polar CH (top right), quiet Sun (bottom left) and quiet Sun with TCHs (bottom right) with the positions of all the corresponding identified brightening pixels over-plotted. The CH boundaries are outlined with a black line. The over-drawn rectangles correspond to the field-of-views shown in Figs. 5, 6 and 7. Time sequences can be found in movies online

Aims. We aim to further explore the small-scale evolution of coronal hole boundaries using X-ray high-resolution and high-cadence images. We intend to determine the fine structure and dynamics of the events causing the changes of the coronal hole boundaries and to explore the possibility that these events are the source of the slow solar wind.

Methods. We developed an automated procedure for the identification of transient brightenings in images from the X-ray telescope on-board Hinode taken with an Al Poly filter in the equatorial coronal holes, polar coronal holes, and the quiet Sun with and without transient coronal holes.

Results. We found that in comparison to the quiet Sun, the boundaries of coronal holes are abundant with brightening events including areas inside the coronal holes where closed magnetic field structures are present. The visual analysis of these brightenings revealed that around 70% of them in equatorial, polar and transient coronal holes and their boundaries show expanding loop structures and/or collimated outflows. In the quiet Sun only 30% of the brightenings show flows with most of them appearing to be contained in the solar corona by closed magnetic field lines. This strongly suggests that magnetic reconnection of co-spatial open and closed magnetic field lines creates the necessary conditions for plasma outflows to large distances. The ejected plasma always originates from pre-existing or newly emerging (at X-ray temperatures) bright points.

Conclusions. The present study confirms our findings that the evolution of loop structures known as coronal bright points is associated with the small-scale changes of coronal hole boundaries. The loop structures show an expansion and eruption with the trapped plasma consequently escaping along the "quasi" open magnetic field lines. These ejections appear to be triggered by magnetic reconnection, e.g. the so-called interchange reconnection between the closed magnetic field lines (BPs) and the open magnetic field lines of the coronal holes. We suggest that these plasma outflows are possibly one of the sources of the slow solar wind.

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Last Revised: 2010 August 2nd