Volume 639, July 2020
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||The Sun and the Heliosphere|
|Published online||21 July 2020|
Ultra-long and quite thin coronal loop without significant expansion⋆
Key Laboratory of Dark Matter and Space Astronomy, Purple Mountain Observatory, CAS, Nanjing 210033, PR China
2 State Key Laboratory of Space Weather, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, PR China
3 Institute of Space Science and Applied Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen 518055, PR China
4 Centre for Mathematical Plasma Astrophysics, Department of Mathematics, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
5 MOE Key Laboratory of Fundamental Physical Quantities Measurements, School of Physics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, PR China
6 School of Astronomy and Space Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, PR China
Accepted: 3 June 2020
Context. Coronal loops are the basic building blocks of the solar corona. They are related to the mass supply and heating of solar plasmas in the corona. However, their fundamental magnetic structures are still not well understood. Most coronal loops do not expand significantly, but the diverging magnetic field would have an expansion factor of about 5−10 over one pressure scale height.
Aims. We investigate a unique coronal loop with a roughly constant cross section. The loop is ultra long and quite thin. A coronal loop model with magnetic helicity is presented to explain the small expansion of the loop width.
Methods. This coronal loop was predominantly detectable in the 171 Å channel of the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). Then, the local magnetic field line was extrapolated within a model of the potential field source-surface. Finally, the differential emission measure analysis made from six AIA bandpasses was applied to obtain the thermal properties of this loop.
Results. This coronal loop has a projected length of roughly 130 Mm, a width of about 1.5 ± 0.5 Mm, and a lifetime of about 90 min. It follows an open magnetic field line. The cross section expanded very little (i.e., 1.5−2.0) along the loop length during its whole lifetime. This loop has a nearly constant temperature at about 0.7 ± 0.2 MK, but its density exhibits the typical structure of a stratified atmosphere.
Conclusions. We use the theory of a thin twisted flux tube to construct a model for this nonexpanding loop and find that with sufficient twist, a coronal loop can indeed attain equilibrium. However, we cannot rule out other possibilities such as footpoint heating by small-scale reconnection or an elevated scale height by a steady flow along the loop.
Key words: Sun: corona / Sun: UV radiation / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: activity
Movie is available at https://www.aanda.org
© ESO 2020
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