Alfvén wave heating and acceleration of plasmas in the solar transition region producing jet-like eruptive activity

S. Whitelam, J. M. A. Ashbourn, R. Bingham, P. K. Shukla, D. S. Spicer

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We present an analysis of observations and theory of selected transition-region phenomena, concentrating on small scale jet-like structures known as spicules and macrospicules. We examine a number of mechanisms that may be responsible for their formation and conclude that Alfvén waves could provide the necessary acceleration through the ponderomotive force and dissipation for heating forming a beam or jet like structure. In applying the Alfvén wave model we make no fundamental distinction between spicules and macrospicules. In this respect we consider them to be manifestations of the same phenomenon on different scales. We predict that the most effective Alfvén waves have frequencies around 1 Hz and amplitudes of 1 V m−1. The resulting plasma jet sets up plasma conditions suitable for creating rotating structures which are also observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-219
Number of pages21
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • Alfvén waves
  • spicules
  • macrospicules
  • ponderomotive force

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