Abstract The lower solar atmosphere is a gravitationally stratified layer of partially ionized plasma. We calculate the electric resistivity in the solar photosphere and chromosphere, which is the key parameter that controls the rate of magnetic reconnection in a Sweet-Parker current sheet. The calculation takes into account the collisions between ions and hydrogen atoms as well as the electron-ion collisions and the electron-hydrogen atom collisions. We find that under the typical conditions of the quiet Sun, electric resistivity is determined mostly by the electron-hydrogen atom collisions in the photosphere, and mostly by the ion-hydrogen collisions, i.e. ambipolar diffusion, in the chromosphere. In magnetic reconnection events with strong magnetic fields, the ambipolar diffusion, however, may be insignificant because the heating by the reconnection itself may lead to the full ionization of hydrogen atoms. We conclude that ambipolar diffusion may be the most important source of electric resistivity responsible for the magnetic flux cancelation and energy release in chromospheric current sheets that can keep a significant fraction of neutral hydrogen atoms.
Keywords plasmas — atomic processes — magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) — Sun: atmosphere — Sun: chromosphere
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