Evidence for Impulsive Heating of Active Region Coronal Loops
Master of Science
We present observational and numerical evidence supporting the theory of impulsive heating of the solar corona. We have run numerical simulations solving the hydrodynamic equations for plasma confined to a magnetic flux tube, for the two distinct cases of steady and impulsive heating. We find that steady heating cannot explain the observed amount of low-temperature plasma in active regions on the sun. The results for impulsive heating closely match those of the observations. The ratio of heating time to cooling time predominantly determines the observed temperature distribution of the plasma. We have also identified an observational bias in calculating intensities of spectral lines in previous studies, which causes an under-estimation of low-temperature plasma. We predict Doppler shifts in the observed line emission that are in agreement with observations, and which may serve as a diagnostic of the strength of heating. We conclude that impulsive heating of active region coronal loops is more likely than steady heating.