The heating of the solar corona

Nicholeen Viall, Ineke De Moortel, Cooper Downs, James A. Klimchuk, Susanna Parenti, Fabio Reale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The solar corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, is heated to millions of Kelvin. This is several orders of magnitude hotter than the photosphere, the optical surface of the Sun, below, and a mystery that has baffled scientists for centuries. The answer to the question of how the solar corona is heated lies in the crucial magnetic connection through the atmosphere of the Sun. The magnetic field that threads the corona extends below the solar photosphere, where convective motions drag the magnetic field footpoints, tangling and twisting them. The chromosphere is the atmospheric layer above the photosphere, and the magnetic field provides an important connection between these layers. The exchange of mass and energy between the chromosphere and the corona is an essential piece of this puzzle. However, the connection between the chromosphere and the corona is a challenging piece of the puzzle both observationally and computationally, as it is highly complex in space and time. We describe the history of the observations and the theoretical understanding of the heating of the solar atmosphere, and end with future prospects of solving the coronal heating problem.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSolar physics and solar wind
EditorsNour E. Raouafi, Angelos Vourlidas, Yongliang Zhang, Larry J. Paxton
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union (AGU)
Number of pages48
ISBN (Electronic)9781119815600
ISBN (Print)9781119507536
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameGeophysical monograph series


  • Chromospheric heating
  • Coronal heating problem
  • Coronal wave heating
  • Differential emission measure
  • Magnetic field
  • Numerical modeling
  • Solar atmosphere
  • Solar photosphere
  • Transition region


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