Cross-Sectional Properties of Coronal Loops
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Careful examination of 43 soft X-ray loops observed by Yohkoh has revealed a number of interesting properties of the loop cross section. First, the loops tend to be only slightly (≈ 30%) wider at their midpoints than at their footpoints, implying less-than-expected expansion of the magnetic field. Second, the variation of width along each loop tends to be modest, implying that the cross section has an approximately circular shape. And third, cross-axis intensity profiles tend to be singly-peaked and simple, implying that the cross section is approximately uniformly filled on resolvable scales. We conclude that the energy which heats the plasma is either dissipated axially symmetrically on a scale equal to a loop diameter (≈ 11000 km) or else is dissipated with any spatial structure, but on a scale much smaller than a loop diameter, and then transported laterally in an axisymmetric fashion (perhaps via conduction along chaotic field lines). In their present form, none of the theoretical ideas concerning the magnetic structure and heating of loops are obviously capable of explaining all of the observed properties.
KeywordsField Line Solar Phys Point Spread Function Flux Tube Coronal Loop
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