Comparison of the effects of wave-particle interactions and the kinetic suprathermal electron population on the acceleration of the solar wind

S. W.Y. Tam, T. Chang

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Kinetic effects due to wave-particle interactions and suprathermal electrons have been suggested in the literature as possible solar wind acceleration mechanisms. Ion cyclotron resonant heating, in particular, has been associated with some qualitative features observed in the solar wind. In terms of solar wind acceleration, however, it is interesting to compare the kinetic effects of suprathermal electrons with those due to the wave-particle interactions. The combined effects of the two acceleration mechanisms on the fast solar wind have been studied by Tam & Chang (1999a,b). In this study, we investigate the role of the suprathermal electron population in the acceleration of the solar wind. Our model follows the global kinetic evolution of the fast solar wind under the influence of ion cyclotron resonant heating, while taking into account Coulomb collisions, and the ambipolar electric field that is consistent with the particle distributions themselves. The kinetic effects due to the suprathermal electrons, which we define to be the tail of the electron distributions, can be included in the model as an option. By comparing the results with and without the inclusion of the suprathermal electron effects, we determine the relative importance of suprathermal electrons and wave-particle interactions in driving the solar wind. We find that although suprathermal electrons enhance the ambipolar electric potential in the solar wind considerably, their overall influence as an acceleration mechanism is relatively insignificant in a wave-driven solar wind.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001-1012
Number of pages12
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Dec


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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