Catastrophic cooling in solar coronal loops

thermal instability as a road to complex evolution


Satellite observations with high spatial and temporal resolution have revealed the highly dynamic nature of the solar corona and enabled us to study physical processes in the outer atmosphere of our mother star in great detail. This thesis deals with dynamic processes in coronal loops, i.e. magnetic structures which may be thought of as the elementary building blocks of the solar corona. Using computational fluid dynamics as a tool, I calculate time-dependent models of solar coronal loops in order to address the following questions: Are dynamic processes in coronal loops, such as flows and transient brightenings, necessarily the result of a time-dependent driving mechanism? Can various observations of fast downflows be explained by a common mechanism? Which parameters determine the dynamics of coronal loops? It is found that coronal loops which are predominantly heated around their footpoints can develop a thermal instability in the upper part of the loop. This instability results in a self-amplifying catastrophic cooling process and leads to the formation of dense, cool plasma condensations. The first part of the work focuses on plasma condensations in short cool loops, which presumably constitute the solar transition region, and describes how the catastrophic cooling process leads to transient brightenings in spectral lines formed in the transition region ...
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