The roots of coronal structure in the Sun's surface

Leon Golub, Harold Zirin, Haimin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We have compared the structures seen on X-ray images obtained by a flight of the NIXT sounding rocket payload on July 11, 1991 with near-simultaneous photospheric and chromospheric structures and magnetic fields observed at Big Bear. The X-ray images reflect emission of both Mg x and Fe xvi, formed at 1 × 106 K and 3 × 106 K, respectively. The brightest H α sources correspond to a dying sub-flare and other active region components, all of which reveal coronal enhancements situated spatially well above the H α emission. The largest set of X-ray arches connected plages of opposite polarity in a large bipolar active region. The arches appear to lie in a small range of angle in the meridian plane connecting their footpoints. Sunspots are dark on the surface and in the corona. For the first time we see an emerging flux region in X-rays and find the emission extends twice as high as the H α arches. Many features which we believe to correspond to 'X-ray bright points' (XBPs) were observed. Whether by resolution or spectral band, the number detected greatly exceeds that from previous work. All of the brighter XBPs correspond to bipolar H α features, while unipolar H α bright points are the base of more diffuse comet-like coronal arches, generally vertical. These diverge from individual features by less than 30°, and give a good measure of what the 'canopies' must do. The H α data shows that all the H α features were present the entire day, so they are not clearly disappearing or reappearing. We find a new class of XBPs which we call 'satellite points', elements of opposite polarity linked to nearby umbrae by invisible field lines. The satellite points change rapidly in X-ray brightness during the flight. An M1.9 flare occurred four hours after the flight; examination of the pre-flare structures reveals nothing unusual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-198
Number of pages20
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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