On the Constancy of the Electron Temperature in the Expanding Corona Throughout Solar Cycle 23

Authors Organisations
  • Shadia Rifai Habbal(Author)
    University of Hawaiʻi
  • Huw Morgan(Author)
  • Miloslav Druckmüller(Author)
    Brno University of Technology
  • Adalbert Ding(Author)
    Technical University of Berlin
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2010
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A recent analysis of Fe emission lines observed during the total solar eclipses of 2006 March 29 and 2008 August 1 established the first empirical link between the electron temperature in the expanding corona and Fe charge states measured in interplanetary space. In this Letter, we use this link to infer this temperature throughout solar cycle 23 from in situ charge state measurements from the Solar Wind Ion Composition Spectrometer (SWICS) on the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) and on Ulysses. The distribution of the SWICS/ACE Fe charge states, which span cycle 23 from 1998 to 2009, is skewed with a peak centered on Fe8+, Fe9+, and Fe10+ and a tail spanning Fe12+ to Fe20+. An iterative process based on this distribution and on the Fe ion fraction as a function of electron temperature yields a narrow peak at 1.1 × 106 K. The tail in the measured charge state distribution is attributed to the sporadic release of material hotter than 2 × 106 K from closed magnetic structures within the bulges of streamers. The Fe Ulysses charge state measurements between 1992 and 1997 from cycle 22 peaked at Fe11+, indicative of a slightly higher temperature of 1.5 × 106 K. The relative constancy of the electron temperature in the expanding corona throughout solar cycle 23 points to the presence of an unknown mechanism regulating the energy input to electrons in the acceleration region of the solar wind at all latitudes during this cycle.