Volume 577, May 2015
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Published online||19 May 2015|
Formation and evolution of coronal rain observed by SDO/AIA on February 22, 2012⋆
1 Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstrasse 6, 8042 Graz, Austria
2 Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory at Ilia State University, Cholokashvili Ave.3/5, Tbilisi, Georgia
3 Departament de Física, Universitat de les Illes Balears, 07122, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
4 Dept. of Mathematics, Centre for Mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
5 Dept. of Computer Science, CODeS & iMinds-iTEC, KU Leuven, KULAK, E. Sabbelaan 53, 8500 Kortrijk, Belgium
Received: 30 April 2014
Accepted: 25 March 2015
Context. The formation and dynamics of coronal rain are currently not fully understood. Coronal rain is the fall of cool and dense blobs formed by thermal instability in the solar corona towards the solar surface with acceleration smaller than gravitational free fall.
Aims. We aim to study the observational evidence of the formation of coronal rain and to trace the detailed dynamics of individual blobs.
Methods. We used time series of the 171 Å and 304 Å spectral lines obtained by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on board the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) above active region AR 11420 on February 22, 2012.
Results. Observations show that a coronal loop disappeared in the 171 Å channel and appeared in the 304 Å line more than one hour later, which indicates a rapid cooling of the coronal loop from 1 MK to 0.05 MK. An energy estimation shows that the radiation is higher than the heat input, which indicates so-called catastrophic cooling. The cooling was accompanied by the formation of coronal rain in the form of falling cold plasma. We studied two different sequences of falling blobs. The first sequence includes three different blobs. The mean velocities of the blobs were estimated to be 50 km s-1, 60 km s-1 and 40 km s-1. A polynomial fit shows the different values of the acceleration for different blobs, which are lower than free-fall in the solar corona. The first and second blob move along the same path, but with and without acceleration, respectively. We performed simple numerical simulations for two consecutive blobs, which show that the second blob moves in a medium that is modified by the passage of the first blob. Therefore, the second blob has a relatively high speed and no acceleration, as is shown by observations. The second sequence includes two different blobs with mean velocities of 100 km s-1 and 90 km s-1, respectively.
Conclusions. The formation of coronal rain blobs is connected with the process of catastrophic cooling. The different acceleration of different coronal rain blobs might be due to the different values in the density ratio of blob to corona. All blobs leave trails, which might be a result of continuous cooling in their tails.
Key words: Sun: atmosphere / Sun: corona
Two movies attached to Fig. 1 are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2015
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