Sensitivity of coronal loop sausage mode frequencies and decay rates to radial and longitudinal density inhomogeneities: A spectral approach

Paul S. Cally, Ming Xiong

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Fast sausage modes in solar magnetic coronal loops are only fully contained in unrealistically short dense loops. Otherwise they are leaky, losing energy to their surrounds as outgoing waves. This causes any oscillation to decay exponentially in time. Simultaneous observations of both period and decay rate therefore reveal the eigenfrequency of the observed mode, and potentially insight into the tubes' nonuniform internal structure. In this article, a global spectral description of the oscillations is presented that results in an implicit matrix eigenvalue equation where the eigenvalues are associated predominantly with the diagonal terms of the matrix. The off-diagonal terms vanish identically if the tube is uniform. A linearized perturbation approach, applied with respect to a uniform reference model, is developed that makes the eigenvalues explicit. The implicit eigenvalue problem is easily solved numerically though, and it is shown that knowledge of the real and imaginary parts of the eigenfrequency is sufficient to determine the width and density contrast of a boundary layer over which the tubes' enhanced internal densities drop to ambient values. Linearized density kernels are developed that show sensitivity only to the extreme outside of the loops for radial fundamental modes, especially for small density enhancements, with no sensitivity to the core. Higher radial harmonics do show some internal sensitivity, but these will be more difficult to observe. Only kink modes are sensitive to the tube centres. Variation in internal and external Alfvén speed along the loop is shown to have little effect on the fundamental dimensionless eigenfrequency, though the associated eigenfunction becomes more compact at the loop apex as stratification increases, or may even displace from the apex.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025501
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2018


  • Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sun: oscillations

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