Friday, June 21, 2013

1306.4685 (H. Peter et al.)

Structure of solar coronal loops: from miniature to large-scale    [PDF]

H. Peter, S. Bingert, J. A. Klimchuk, C. de Forest, J. W. Cirtain, L. Golub, A. R. Winebarger, K. Kobayashi, K. E. Korreck
We will use new data from the High-resolution Coronal Imager (Hi-C) with unprecedented spatial resolution of the solar corona to investigate the structure of coronal loops down to 0.2 arcsec. During a rocket flight Hi-C provided images of the solar corona in a wavelength band around 193 A that is dominated by emission from Fe XII showing plasma at temperatures around 1.5 MK. We analyze part of the Hi-C field-of-view to study the smallest coronal loops observed so far and search for the a possible sub-structuring of larger loops. We find tiny 1.5 MK loop-like structures that we interpret as miniature coronal loops. These have length of the coronal segment above the chromosphere of only about 1 Mm and a thickness of less than 200 km. They could be interpreted as the coronal signature of small flux tubes breaking through the photosphere with a footpoint distance corresponding to the diameter of a cell of granulation. We find loops that are longer than 50 Mm to have a diameter of about 2 arcsec or 1.5 Mm, consistent with previous observations. However, Hi-C really resolves these loops with some 20 pixels across the loop. Even at this greatly improved spatial resolution the large loops seem to have no visible sub-structure. Instead they show a smooth variation in cross-section. The fact that the large coronal loops do not show a sub-structure at the spatial scale of 0.1 arcsec per pixel implies that either the densities and temperatures are smoothly varying across these loops or poses an upper limit on the diameter of strands the loops might be composed of. We estimate that strands that compose the 2 arcsec thick loop would have to be thinner than 15 km. The miniature loops we find for the first time pose a challenge to be properly understood in terms of modeling.
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