Resonant absorption with 2D variation of field line eigenfrequencies

A. J. B. Russell, A. N. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Context. Resonant absorption, also known as field line resonance, can be used to describe coupling between fast and Alfven waves in non-uniform plasmas. Since the conditions for resonant absorption occur widely in astrophysics, it is applicable in many different contexts, all of which are united by their common physics. For example, resonant absorption is known to play a major role in the excitation of ultra-low frequency pulsations in the terrestrial magnetosphere and is also a leading explanation for the decay of fast kink oscillations of coronal loops. The occurrence of non-axisymmetric conditions in the magnetosphere, and observational evidence that coronal loops may possess fine transverse structure, highlight a need to consider equilibria that vary in two dimensions across the background magnetic field.

Aims. We investigate the properties of resonant absorption when field line eigenfrequencies vary in two dimensions across the background magnetic field. We aim to place the theory on a firm mathematical footing and explore some of its key features.

Methods. Using cold, linear, ideal MHD with a straight, uniform background magnetic field, we systematically obtain a complete analytic solution for behaviour at late times. This provides a framework from which the features of resonant absorption may be understood. The time-dependent problem is solved numerically, reproducing key features of the analytic solution.

Results. Energy is deposited from a monochromatic fast wave as a phase mixing Alfven wave, in the vicinity of the resonant surface, at which the local field line eigenfrequency matches the frequency of the driver. A generalisation of the one dimensional phase mixing length to higher dimensions is suggested, and shown to successfully estimate the finest lengthscales in time-dependent simulations. The resonant Alfven wave is driven by gradients of the field aligned magnetic field perturbation, which is associated with the fast wave pressure. This leads to amplitude variations of the Alfven wave that can be used to reveal the spatial form of the fast wave.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA17
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2010


  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • waves
  • magnetic fields
  • Sun: oscillations
  • Sun: corona
  • Earth


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