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Ionization effects in three-dimensional solar granulation simulations
Rast, Mark P.; Nordlund, Ake; Stein, Robert F.; Toomre, Juri
AA(Joint Inst. for Lab. Astrophysics; Colorado Univ., Boulder), AB(Copenhagen Univ. Observatory, Denmark), AC(Michigan State University, East Lansing), AD(Joint Inst. for Lab. Astrophysics; Colorado Univ., Boulder)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 408, no. 1, p. L53-L56. (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
Solar Physics
NASA/STI Keywords:
Atmospheric Ionization, Hydrogen Ions, Solar Convection (Astronomy), Solar Granulation, Three Dimensional Models, Free Convection, Hydrodynamic Equations, Latent Heat
Bibliographic Code:


These numerical studies show that ionization influences both the transport and dynamical properties of compressible convection near the surface of the Sun. About two-thirds of the enthalpy transported by convective motions in the region of partial hydrogen ionization is carried as latent heat. The role of fast downflow plumes in total convective transport is substantially elevated by this contribution. Instability of the thermal boundary layer is strongly enhanced by temperature sensitive variations in the radiative properties of the fluid, and this provides a mechanism for plume initiation and cell fragmentation in the surface layers. As the plumes descend, temperature fluctuations and associated buoyancy forces are maintained because of the increased specific heat of the partially ionized material. This can result is supersonic vertical flows. At greater depths, ionization effects diminish, and the plumes are decelerated by significant entrainment of surrounding fluid.

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