Loops of Plasma may be a lot different than we thought earlier

Jay Kakade
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Solar Flares Illustration of Solar Flares originating from Sun's Atmosphere.

Earlier we thought the Coronal loops (loops of plasma) originated from surface of Sun along with magnetic fields. But this solar phenomenon may be not as simple as we thought earlier. Astronomers dubbed this phenomenon as Coronal Veil and stated that we need further research to understand how and why do it occur.

Team said, this finding is significant. Coronal loops were first identified in 1960’s. Today astronomers use them to understand properties of Sun; Magnetic field, Density and Temperature of Sun’s atmosphere.



Coronal loops are arc of glowing plasma which is said to be associated with Sunspots. But recent analyses do not match with what we expect.

Coronal loops that are associated with sunspots are much taller than we think. When the loops achieve great height, brightness doesn’t dim. It can be better understood by school experiment of bar magnet and iron fillings. When bigger loops are formed, reaching farther from magnet are thinner and more tenuous, ScienceAlert.

Coronal loops resemble iron loops. If loops of plasma are associated with magnetic field, Loops must not dim with greater heights.
 
Solar Loops Coronal loops (Image Credit: NASA)

Recently, a team used a software called MURaM to better understand solar coronal loops. This program is able to generate realistic stimulations of Sun. This ability made this software one of the best tools to study loops better.

When team conducted the model and studied stimulations, they found coronal loops are not as discrete structure as always. Rather they were thin sheets of plasma. These sheets were thicker and denser, astronomers were able to see them clearly. Stimulation also suggested coronal loops can originate on their own too. This revealed Coronal Loops are much more complex phenomenon than we thought earlier.

In addition, MURaM stimulated life cycles of solar flares too. After analysing three-dimensional datasets were created. This synthetic observation of loops of plasma and magnetic field can be used for more detailed study.



Why to do Synthetic Observations?

If we directly observe solar loops, it can be a difficult job. When astronomers look loops from side, Shape of it can’t be seen. But when observed from front, shape is visible but width can’t be measured.

Though Coronal Veil reveals properties of Coronal loops, still why and how do these structures originate and what causes them to wrinkle is unanswered. Synthetic observations might provide support to these answers.

But providing answers to such questions require more advance observational tools and methods. Some astronomers suggest, loops may contain fluids that are difficult to see. More understanding in this field can have impact on other fields of physics too.


References
  1. The Astrophysical Journal: The Coronal Veil
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