Density Fluctuations in a Coronal Hole

Hahn, Michael; D’Huys, Elke; Savin, Daniel Wolf

We have measured the root-mean-square (rms) amplitude of intensity fluctuations, ΔI, in plume and interplume regions of a polar coronal hole. These intensity fluctuations correspond to density fluctuations. Using data from the Sun Watcher using the Active Pixel System detector and Image Processing on the Project for Onboard Autonomy (Proba2), our results extend up to a height of about 1.35Re. One advantage of the rms analysis is that it does not rely on a detailed evaluation of the power spectrum, which is limited by noise levels to low heights in the corona. The rms approach can be performed up to larger heights where the noise level is greater, provided that the noise itself can be quantified. At low heights, both the absolute ΔI, and the amplitude relative to the mean intensity, ΔI/I, decrease with height. However, starting at about 1.2Re, ΔI/I increases, reaching 20%–40% by 1.35Re. This corresponds to density fluctuations of Δne/ne≈10%–20%. The increasing relative amplitude implies that the density fluctuations are generated in the corona itself. One possibility is that the density fluctuations are generated by an instability of Alfvén waves. This generation mechanism is consistent with some theoretical models and with observations of Alfvén wave amplitudes in coronal holes. Although we find that the energy of the observed density fluctuations is small, these fluctuations are likely to play an important indirect role in coronal heating by promoting the reflection of Alfvén waves and driving turbulence.


  • thumnail for Hahn et al. - 2018 - Density Fluctuations in a Polar Coronal Hole.pdf Hahn et al. - 2018 - Density Fluctuations in a Polar Coronal Hole.pdf application/pdf 588 KB Download File

Also Published In

The Astrophysical Journal

More About This Work

Academic Units
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Published Here
March 15, 2023