Modification of wave propagation and wave travel-time by the presence of magnetic fields in the solar network atmosphere
Context. Observations of waves at frequencies above the acoustic cut-off frequency have revealed vanishing wave travel-times in the vicinity of strong magnetic fields. This detection of apparently evanescent waves, instead of the expected propagating waves, has remained a riddle.
Aims: We investigate the influence of a strong magnetic field on the propagation of magneto-acoustic waves in the atmosphere of the solar network. We test whether mode conversion effects can account for the shortening in wave travel-times between different heights in the solar atmosphere.
Methods: We carry out numerical simulations of the complex magneto-atmosphere representing the solar magnetic network. In the simulation domain, we artificially excite high frequency waves whose wave travel-times between different height levels we then analyze.
Results: The simulations demonstrate that the wave travel-time in the solar magneto-atmosphere is strongly influenced by mode conversion. In a layer enclosing the surface sheet defined by the set of points where the Alfvén speed and the sound speed are equal, called the equipartition level, energy is partially transferred from the fast acoustic mode to the fast magnetic mode. Above the equipartition level, the fast magnetic mode is refracted due to the large gradient of the Alfvén speed. The refractive wave path and the increasing phase speed of the fast mode inside the magnetic canopy significantly reduce the wave travel-time, provided that both observing levels are above the equipartition level.
Conclusions: Mode conversion and the resulting excitation and propagation of fast magneto-acoustic waves is responsible for the observation of vanishing wave travel-times in the vicinity of strong magnetic fields. In particular, the wave propagation behavior of the fast mode above the equipartition level may mimic evanescent behavior. The present wave propagation experiments provide an explanation of vanishing wave travel-times as observed with multi-line high-cadence instruments.