Coronal currents, magnetic fields, and heating in a solar active region

Jeongwoo Lee, A. N. McClymont, Zoran Mikić, Stephen M. White, Mukul R. Kundu

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40 Scopus citations


We compare microwave images of a solar active region with state-of-the-art fully nonlinear force-free extrapolations of the photospheric fields in order to study the link between coronal currents and heating of the corona. This extrapolation fully takes into account the nonuniform distribution of electric currents observed in the photosphere and its role in the coronal magnetic structure. We carry out the comparison for AR 6615, a complex region observed with the VLA on 1991 May 7. Under the assumption that the microwave emission is dominated by optically thick gyroresonance radiation, we may use the radio images to infer the temperature of the corona at different heights and locations. This is then compared with heating models based on the observed current distribution. We are able to reproduce the radio images remarkably well with a model in which temperature is structured along magnetic field lines, depends on the current on the field line, and increases with height in a manner similar to that inferred from static heated loop models. This result implies a direct link between electric currents and coronal heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-865
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Jul 10 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Radiative transfer
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: magnetic fields
  • Sun: radio radiation


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