EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 424, Number 1, September II 2004
Page(s) 289 - 300
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040403

A&A 424, 289-300 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040403

Dynamics of solar coronal loops

II. Catastrophic cooling and high-speed downflows
D. A. N. Müller1, 2, H. Peter1 and V. H. Hansteen2

1  Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Schöneckstr. 6, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
    e-mail: daniel.mueller@astro.uio.no;peter@kis.uni-freiburg.de
2  Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, PO Box 1029, Blindern 0315, Oslo, Norway
    e-mail: viggo.hansteen@astro.uio.no

(Received 7 March 2004 / Accepted 14 May 2004 )

This work addresses the problem of plasma condensation and "catastrophic cooling" in solar coronal loops. We have carried out numerical calculations of coronal loops and find several classes of time-dependent solutions (static, periodic, irregular), depending on the spatial distribution of a temporally constant energy deposition in the loop. Dynamic loops exhibit recurrent plasma condensations, accompanied by high-speed downflows and transient brightenings of transition region lines, in good agreement with features observed with TRACE. Furthermore, these results also offer an explanation for the recent EIT observations of De Groof et al. (2004) of moving bright blobs in large coronal loops. In contrast to earlier models, we suggest that the process of catastrophic cooling is not initiated by a drastic decrease of the total loop heating but rather results from a loss of equilibrium at the loop apex as a natural consequence of heating concentrated at the footpoints of the loop, but constant in time.

Key words: Sun: corona -- Sun: transition region -- Sun: UV radiation

© ESO 2004