AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 95 Coronal Heating Theory and Observations
SPD Oral, Thursday, June 3, 2004, 2:00-3:30pm, 704

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[95.05] Coronal Energetics and Loop Dynamics

J.T. Schmelz (University of Memphis)

To understand the overall energetics of the solar corona, one must consider the various energy reservoirs, for example, thermal plasma, microscopic “turbulence,” bulk kinetic motions, shock fronts, non-potential magnetic field configurations, and non-equilibrium ionization states. Other crucial inputs include the methods of energy transfer and the detailed processes of energy release and dissipation. In the actual corona, there are different kinds of energy reservoirs, transfer mechanisms, and release/dissipation processes (sometimes present or operating simultaneously), and their roles vary, depending largely on the nature of the local magnetic field. In this project, we focused on one component of the coronal energy storage system – the active region loop (which may also be taken to mean an unresolved ensemble of strands). The heated coronal loop plasma is a transitional storage medium of the coronal energy reservoir. In particular, we will examine the temperature profile, density structure, and temporal evolution of active region loops. With this information – and using estimates of the coronal magnetic field, elemental abundances, bulk flows, waves, and turbulent motions from previous measurements – we can evaluate the conductive and radiative loss rates, investigate the conditions under which other energy transport mechanisms are important, and begin to determine the dominant energy loss mechanism(s) for different (and possibly different types of) coronal loops. These loop studies will characterize a key link in the complicated chain that comprises the transition from energy storage to energy dissipation in the corona. With a better handle on the thermal content of active coronal loops, one can begin to assess the importance of these prolific structures to other aspects of the coronal energy storage system and the relation of loops to different methods of energy transfer, release, and dissipation. Solar physics research at the University of Memphis is supported by NASA grants NAG5-9783 and NAG5-12096.

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