How Accurately Can We Determine the Coronal Heating Mechanism in the Large-Scale Solar Corona?

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Abstract

In recent papers by Priest et al., the nature of the coronal heating mechanism in the large-scale solar corona was considered. The authors compared observations of the temperature profile along large coronal loops with simple theoretical models and found that uniform heating along the loop gave the best fit to the observed data. This then led them to speculate that turbulent reconnection is a likely method to heat the large-scale solar corona. Here we reconsider their data and their suggestion about the nature of the coronal heating mechanism. Two distinct models are compared with the observations of temperature profiles. This is done to determine the most likely form of heating under different theoretical constraints. From this, more accurate judgments on the nature of the coronal heating mechanism are made. It is found that, due to the size of the error estimates in the observed temperatures, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between some of the different heat forms. In the initial comparison the limited range of observed temperatures (T > 1.5 MK) in the data sets suggests that heat deposited in the upper portions of the loop, fits the data more accurately than heat deposited in the lower portions. However if a fuller model temperature range (T < 1.0 MK) is used results in contridiction to this are found. In light of this several improvements are required from the observations in order to produce theoretically meaningful results. This gives serious bounds on the accuracy of the observations of the large-scale solar corona in future satellite missions such a Solar-B or Stereo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)p.93-116
Number of pages24
JournalSolar Physics
Volume193
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2000

Keywords

  • TEMPERATURE STRUCTURE
  • MAGNETIC-FIELD
  • LOOPS
  • YOHKOH
  • HOLES

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