The cooling of coronal plasmas. IV. Catastrophic cooling of loops

P.J. Cargill, S.J. Bradshaw

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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We examine the radiative cooling of coronal loops and demonstrate that the recently identified catastrophic cooling is due to the inability of a loop to sustain radiative/enthalpy cooling below a critical temperature, which can be >1 MK in flares, 0.5-1 MK in active regions, and 0.1 MK in long tenuous loops. Catastrophic cooling is characterized by a rapid fall in coronal temperature, while the coronal density changes by a small amount. Analytic expressions for the critical temperature are derived and show good agreement with numerical results. This effect considerably limits the lifetime of coronal plasmas below the critical temperature.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2013


  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: transition region


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