34th Solar Physics Division Meeting, June 2003
Session 17 Corona III
Poster, Wednesday, June 18, 2003, 3:30-5:00pm, Mezzanine

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[17.11] To BG or not to BG: Background Subtraction for EIT Coronal Loops

J.E. Beene, J.T. Schmelz (University of Memphis)

One of the few observational tests for various coronal heating models is to determine the temperature profile along coronal loops. Since loops are such an abundant coronal feature, this method originally seemed quite promising - that the coronal heating problem might actually be solved by determining the temperature as a function of arc length and comparing these observations with predictions made by different models. But there are many instruments currently available to study loops, as well as various techniques used to determine their temperature characteristics. Consequently, there are many different, mostly conflicting temperature results. We chose data for ten coronal loops observed with the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT), and chose specific pixels along each loop, as well as corresponding nearby background pixels where the loop emission was not present. Temperature analysis from the 171-to-195 and 195-to-284 angstrom image ratios was then performed on three forms of the data: the original data alone, the original data with a uniform background subtraction, and the original data with a pixel-by-pixel background subtraction. The original results show loops of constant temperature, as other authors have found before us, but the 171-to-195 and 195-to-284 results are significantly different. Background subtraction does not change the constant-temperature result or the value of the temperature itself. This does not mean that loops are isothermal, however, because the background pixels, which are not part of any contiguous structure, also produce a constant-temperature result with the same value as the loop pixels. These results indicate that EIT temperature analysis should not be trusted, and the isothermal loops that result from EIT (and TRACE) analysis may be an artifact of the analysis process. Solar physics research at the University of Memphis is supported by NASA grants NAG5-9783 and NAG5-12096.

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