Coronal loops interconnecting two active regions (ARs), called interconnecting loops (ILs), are prominent large-scale structures in the solar atmosphere. They carry a significant amount of magnetic flux and therefore are considered to be an important element of the solar dynamo process. Earlier observations showed that eruptions of ILs are an important source of CMEs. It is generally believed that ILs are formed through magnetic reconnection in the high corona (>150″-200″), and several scenarios have been proposed to explain their brightening in soft X-rays (SXRs). However, the detailed IL formation process has not been fully explored, and the associated energy release in the corona still remains unresolved. Here, we report the complete formation process of a set of ILs connecting two nearby ARs, with successive observations by STEREO-A on the far side of the Sun and by SDO and Hinode on the Earth side. We conclude that ILs are formed by gradual reconnection high in the corona, in line with earlier postulations. In addition, we show evidence that ILs brighten in SXRs and EUVs through heating at or close to the reconnection site in the corona (i.e., through the direct heating process of reconnection), a process that has been largely overlooked in earlier studies of ILs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Sun: activity
- Sun: corona