Establishing a Connection Between Active Region Outflows and the Solar Wind: Abundance Measurements with EIS/Hinode
One of the most interesting discoveries from Hinode is the presence of persistent high-temperature high-speed outflows from the edges of active regions (ARs). EUV imaging spectrometer (EIS) measurements indicate that the outflows reach velocities of 50 km s-1 with spectral line asymmetries approaching 200 km s-1. It has been suggested that these outflows may lie on open field lines that connect to the heliosphere, and that they could potentially be a significant source of the slow speed solar wind. A direct link has been difficult to establish, however. We use EIS measurements of spectral line intensities that are sensitive to changes in the relative abundance of Si and S as a result of the first ionization potential (FIP) effect, to measure the chemical composition in the outflow regions of AR 10978 over a 5 day period in 2007 December. We find that Si is always enhanced over S by a factor of 3-4. This is generally consistent with the enhancement factor of low FIP elements measured in situ in the slow solar wind by non-spectroscopic methods. Plasma with a slow wind-like composition was therefore flowing from the edge of the AR for at least 5 days. Furthermore, on December 10 and 11, when the outflow from the western side was favorably oriented in the Earth direction, the Si/S ratio was found to match the value measured a few days later by the Advanced Composition Explorer/Solar Wind Ion Composition Spectrometer. These results provide strong observational evidence for a direct connection between the solar wind, and the coronal plasma in the outflow regions.