Non-thermal broadening of coronal lines in a 3D MHD loop model

Cosima Alexandra Breu*, Hardi Peter, Sami Khan Solanki, Robert Cameron, Ineke De Moortel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Observed spectral profiles of emission lines from the corona are found to have widths exceeding the thermal line width. To investigate the physical mechanism, we run a 3D MHD model of a single, straightened loop in which we partially resolve turbulent motions that form in response to the driving by self-consistently evolving magneto-convection in the photosphere. The convective motions shear and twist the magnetic field lines, leading to heating. From the model we synthesize spectral profiles of emission lines forming at temperatures around and above 1 MK. The coronal heating process generates a range of velocity amplitudes and directions structured on a scale much smaller than the resolving power of current instruments, leading to a broadening of the spectral lines. Our model includes the mass exchange between corona and chromosphere, thus we also capture flows parallel to the loop axis. We find that the spectral lines show a non-thermal line broadening roughly consistent with observations for a viewing angle perpendicular to the axis. The broadening through field-parallel flows is comparable, although slightly smaller. The line broadening is independent of the instrument resolution for a perpendicular line-of-sight. We can connect the non-thermal line broadening to heating events and flows. While small-scale velocities along the line-of-sight are mainly responsible for the broadening observed perpendicular to the loop, chromospheric evaporation is important for the line broadening observed along the loop. The model reproduces observed values for non-thermal line widths. In the model these result from continuous driving by magnetoconvection, without imposing driving motions or starting from an already braided field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2361–2377
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date28 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: magnetic field
  • Magnetohydrodyanmics (MHD)


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