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3D MHD modeling of twisted coronal loops  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2016-07-20 08:01

We perform MHD modeling of a single bright coronal loop to include the interaction with a non-uniform magnetic field. The field is stressed by random footpoint rotation in the central region and its energy is dissipated into heating by growing currents through anomalous magnetic diffusivity that switches on in the corona above a current density threshold. We model an entire single magnetic flux tube, in the solar atmosphere extending from the high-beta chromosphere to the low-beta corona through the steep transition region. The magnetic field expands from the chromosphere to the corona. The maximum resolution is ~30 km. We obtain an overall evolution typical of loop models and realistic loop emission in the EUV and X-ray bands. The plasma confined in the flux tube is heated to active region temperatures (~3 MK) after ~2/3 hr. Upflows from the chromosphere up to ~100 km s-1 fill the core of the flux tube to densities above 109 cm-3. More heating is released in the low corona than the high corona and is finely structured both in space and time.

Authors: F. Reale, S. Orlando, M. Guarrasi, A. Mignone, G. Peres, A. W. Hood, E. R. Priest
Projects: Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication in ApJ
Last Modified: 2016-07-20 12:23
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Plasma sloshing in pulse-heated solar and stellar coronal loops  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2016-07-06 04:15

There is evidence that coronal heating is highly intermittent, and flares are the high energy extreme. The properties of the heat pulses are difficult to constrain. Here hydrodynamic loop modeling shows that several large amplitude oscillations (~ 20% in density) are triggered in flare light curves if the duration of the heat pulse is shorter that the sound crossing time of the flaring loop. The reason is that the plasma has not enough time to reach pressure equilibrium during the heating and traveling pressure fronts develop. The period is a few minutes for typical solar coronal loops, dictated by the sound crossing time in the decay phase. The long period and large amplitude make these oscillations different from typical MHD waves. This diagnostic can be applied both to observations of solar and stellar flares and to future observations of non-flaring loops at high resolution.

Authors: F. Reale
Projects: SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication in ApJ Letters
Last Modified: 2016-07-06 10:35
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EUV Flickering of Solar Coronal Loops: A New Diagnostic of Coronal Heating  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2016-02-11 00:31

A previous work of ours found the best agreement between EUV light curves observed in an active region core (with evidence of super-hot plasma) and those predicted from a model with a random combination of many pulse-heated strands with a power-law energy distribution. We extend that work by including spatially resolved strand modeling and by studying the evolution of emission along the loops in the EUV 94 Å and 335 Å channels of the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Using the best parameters of the previous work as the input of the present one, we find that the amplitude of the random fluctuations driven by the random heat pulses increases from the bottom to the top of the loop in the 94 Å channel and from the top to the bottom in the 335 Å channel. This prediction is confirmed by the observation of a set of aligned neighboring pixels along a bright arc of an active region core. Maps of pixel fluctuations may therefore provide easy diagnostics of nanoflaring regions.

Authors: Tajfirouze, E.; Reale, F.; Peres, G.; Testa, P.
Projects: SDO-AIA

Publication Status: The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 817, Issue 2, article id. L11, 6 pp. (2016)
Last Modified: 2016-02-11 14:25
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Time-resolved Emission from Bright Hot Pixels of an Active Region Observed in the EUV Band with SDO/AIA and Multi-stranded Loop Modeling  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2016-02-11 00:29

Evidence of small amounts of very hot plasma has been found in active regions and might be an indication of impulsive heating released at spatial scales smaller than the cross-section of a single loop. We investigate the heating and substructure of coronal loops in the core of one such active region by analyzing the light curves in the smallest resolution elements of solar observations in two EUV channels (94 and 335 Å ) from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory. We model the evolution of a bundle of strands heated by a storm of nanoflares by means of a hydrodynamic 0D loop model (EBTEL). The light curves obtained from a random combination of those of single strands are compared to the observed light curves either in a single pixel or in a row of pixels, simultaneously in the two channels, and using two independent methods: an artificial intelligent system (Probabilistic Neural Network) and a simple cross-correlation technique. We explore the space of the parameters to constrain the distribution of the heat pulses, their duration, their spatial size, and, as a feedback on the data, their signatures on the light curves. From both methods the best agreement is obtained for a relatively large population of events (1000) with a short duration (less than 1 minute) and a relatively shallow distribution (power law with index 1.5) in a limited energy range (1.5 decades). The feedback on the data indicates that bumps in the light curves, especially in the 94 Å channel, are signatures of a heating excess that occurred a few minutes before.

Authors: Tajfirouze, E.; Reale, F.; Petralia, A.; Testa, P.
Projects: SDO-AIA

Publication Status: The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 816, Issue 1, article id. 12, 12 pp. (2016)
Last Modified: 2016-02-11 14:25
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Using the transit of Venus to probe the upper planetary atmosphere  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2015-07-01 04:11

During a planetary transit, atoms with high atomic number absorb short-wavelength radiation in the upper atmosphere, and the planet should appear larger during a primary transit observed in high-energy bands than in the optical band. Here we measure the radius of Venus with subpixel accuracy during the transit in 2012 observed in the optical, ultraviolet and soft X-rays with Hinode and Solar Dynamics Observatory missions. We find that, while Venus?s optical radius is about 80 km larger than the solid body radius (the top of clouds and haze), the radius increases further by >70 km in the extreme ultraviolet and soft X-rays. This measures the altitude of the densest ion layers of Venus?s ionosphere (CO2 and CO), useful for planning missions in situ, and a benchmark case for detecting transits of exoplanets in high-energy bands with future missions, such as the ESA Athena.

Authors: Fabio Reale, Angelo F. Gambino, Giuseppina Micela, Antonio Maggio, Thomas Widemann, Giuseppe Piccioni
Projects: Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: published in Nature Communications
Last Modified: 2015-07-01 20:30
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Bright hot impacts by erupted fragments falling back on the Sun: UV redshifts in stellar accretion  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2014-10-28 01:46

A solar eruption after a flare on 7 Jun 2011 produced EUV-bright impacts of fallbacks far from the eruption site, observed with the Solar Dynamics Observatory. These impacts can be taken as a template for the impact of stellar accretion flows. Broad red-shifted UV lines have been commonly observed in young accreting stars. Here we study the emission from the impacts in the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly's UV channels and compare the inferred velocity distribution to stellar observations. We model the impacts with 2D hydrodynamic simulations. We find that the localised UV 1600A emission and its timing with respect to the EUV emission can be explained by the impact of a cloud of fragments. The first impacts produce strong initial upflows. The following fragments are hit and shocked by these upflows. The UV emission comes mostly from the shocked front shell of the fragments while they are still falling, and is therefore redshifted when observed from above. The EUV emission instead continues from the hot surface layer that is fed by the impacts. Fragmented accretion can therefore explain broad redshifted UV lines (e.g. C IV 1550A) to speeds around 400 km s-1 observed in accreting young stellar objects.

Authors: F. Reale, S. Orlando, P. Testa, E. Landi, C. J. Schrijver
Projects: SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication in ApJ Letters
Last Modified: 2014-10-28 13:37
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Coronal Loops: Observations and Modeling of Confined Plasma  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2014-07-30 03:27

Substantially revised and updated the previous version. Coronal loops are the building blocks of the X-ray bright solar corona. They owe their brightness to the dense confined plasma, and this review focuses on loops mostly as structures confining plasma. After a brief historical overview, the review is divided into two separate but not independent parts: the first illustrates the observational framework, the second reviews the theoretical knowledge. Quiescent loops and their confined plasma are considered and, therefore, topics such as loop oscillations and flaring loops (except for non-solar ones, which provide information on stellar loops) are not specifically addressed here. The observational section discusses the classification, populations, and the morphology of coronal loops, its relationship with the magnetic field, and the loop stranded structure. The section continues with the thermal properties and diagnostics of the loop plasma, according to the classification into hot, warm, and cool loops. Then, temporal analyses of loops and the observations of plasma dynamics, hot and cool flows, and waves are illustrated. In the modeling section, some basics of loop physics are provided, supplying fundamental scaling laws and timescales, a useful tool for consultation. The concept of loop modeling is introduced and models are divided into those treating loops as monolithic and static, and those resolving loops into thin and dynamic strands. More specific discussions address modeling the loop fine structure and the plasma flowing along the loops. Special attention is devoted to the question of loop heating, with separate discussion of wave (AC) and impulsive (DC) heating. Large-scale models including atmosphere boxes and the magnetic field are also discussed. Finally, a brief discussion about stellar coronal loops is followed by highlights and open questions.

Authors: F. Reale
Projects: None

Publication Status: Published: Fabio Reale, "Coronal Loops: Observations and Modeling of Confined Plasma", Living Rev. Solar Phys. 11, (2014), 4.
Last Modified: 2014-07-30 15:22
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MHD modeling of coronal loops: injection of high-speed chromospheric flows  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2014-05-12 02:26

Observations reveal a correspondence between chromospheric type II spicules and bright upwardly moving fronts in the corona observed in the EUV band. However, theoretical considerations suggest that these flows are unlikely to be the main source of heating in coronal magnetic loops. We investigate the propagation of high-speed chromospheric flows into coronal magnetic flux tubes, and the possible production of emission in the EUV band. We simulate the propagation of a dense 104 K chromospheric jet upwards along a coronal loop, by means of a 2-D cylindrical MHD model, including gravity, radiative losses, thermal conduction and magnetic induction. The jet propagates in a complete atmosphere including the chromosphere and a tenuous cool (∼0.8 MK) corona, linked through a steep transition region. In our reference model, the jet's initial speed is 70 km s-1, its initial density is 1011 cm-3, and the ambient uniform magnetic field is 10 G. We explore also other values of jet speed and density in 1-D, and of magnetic field in 2-D, and the jet propagation in a hotter (∼1.5 MK) background loop. While the initial speed of the jet does not allow it to reach the loop apex, a hot shock front develops ahead of it and travels to the other extreme of the loop. The shock front compresses the coronal plasma and heats it to about 106 K. As a result, a bright moving front becomes visible in the 171 Å channel of the SDO/AIA mission. This result generally applies to all the other explored cases, except for the propagation in the hotter loop. For a cool, low-density initial coronal loop, the post-shock plasma ahead of upward chromospheric flows might explain at least part of the observed correspondence between type II spicules and EUV emission excess.

Authors: A. Petralia, F. Reale, S. Orlando, J. A. Klimchuk
Projects: Hinode/EIS,Hinode/SOT,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2014-05-14 13:10
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Thermal structure of hot non-flaring corona from Hinode/EIS  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2014-03-12 08:40

In previous studies a very hot plasma component has been diagnosed in solar active regions through the images in three different narrow-band channels of SDO/AIA. This diagnostic from EUV imaging data has also been supported by the matching morphology of the emission in the hot Ca XVII line, as observed with Hinode/EIS. This evidence is debated because of unknown distribution of the emission measure along the line of sight. Here we investigate in detail the thermal distribution of one of such regions using EUV spectroscopic data. In an active region observed with SDO/AIA, Hinode/EIS and XRT, we select a subregion with a very hot plasma component and another cooler one for comparison. The average spectrum is extracted for both, and 14 intense lines are selected for analysis, that probe the 5.5 < log T < 7 temperature range uniformly. From these lines the emission measure distributions are reconstructed with the MCMC method. Results are cross-checked with comparison of the two subregions, with a different inversion method, with the morphology of the images, and with the addition of fluxes measured with from narrow and broad-band imagers. We find that, whereas the cool region has a flat and featureless distribution that drops at temperature log T >= 6.3, the distribution of the hot region shows a well-defined peak at log T = 6.6 and gradually decreasing trends on both sides, thus supporting the very hot nature of the hot component diagnosed with imagers. The other cross-checks are consistent with this result. This study provides a completion of the analysis of active region components, and the resulting scenario supports the presence of a minor very hot plasma component in the core, with temperatures log T > 6.6.

Authors: A. Petralia, F. Reale, P. Testa, G. Del Zanna
Projects: Hinode/EIS,Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2014-03-12 09:56
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MHD modeling of coronal loops: the transition region throat  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2014-02-04 02:25

The expansion of coronal loops in the transition region may considerably influence the diagnostics of the plasma emission measure. The cross sectional area of the loops is expected to depend on the temperature and pressure, and might be sensitive to the heating rate. The approach here is to study the area response to slow changes in the coronal heating rate, and check the current interpretation in terms of steady heating models. We study the area response with a time-dependent 2D MHD loop model, including the description of the expanding magnetic field, coronal heating and losses by thermal conduction and radiation from optically thin plasma. We run a simulation for a loop 50 Mm long and quasi-statically heated to about 4 MK. We find that the area can change substantially with the quasi-steady heating rate, e.g. by ~40% at 0.5 MK as the loop temperature varies between 1 and 4 MK, and, therefore, affects the interpretation of DEM(T) curves.

Authors: M. Guarrasi, F. Reale, S. Orlando, A. Mignone, J. A. Klimchuk
Projects: None

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2014-02-04 10:43
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X-raying hot plasma in solar active regions with the SphinX spectrometer  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2012-07-26 04:49

The detection of very hot plasma in the quiescent corona is important for diagnosing heating mechanisms. The presence and the amount of such hot plasma is currently debated. The SphinX instrument on-board CORONAS-PHOTON mission is sensitive to X-ray emission well above 1 keV and provides the opportunity to detect the hot plasma component. We analyzed the X-ray spectra of the solar corona collected by the SphinX spectrometer in May 2009 (when two active regions were present). We modelled the spectrum extracted from the whole Sun over a time window of 17 days in the 1.34-7 keV energy band by adopting the latest release of the APED database. The SphinX broadband spectrum cannot be modelled by a single isothermal component of optically thin plasma and two components are necessary. In particular, the high statistics and the accurate calibration of the spectrometer allowed us to detect a very hot component at ~7 million K with an emission measure of ~2.7 x 1044 cm-3. The X-ray emission from the hot plasma dominates the solar X-ray spectrum above 4 keV. We checked that this hot component is invariably present both at high and low emission regimes, i.e. even excluding resolvable microflares. We also present and discuss a possible non-thermal origin (compatible with a weak contribution from thick-target bremsstrahlung) for this hard emission component. Our results support the nanoflare scenario and might confirm that a minor flaring activity is ever-present in the quiescent corona, as also inferred for the coronae of other stars.

Authors: M. Miceli, F. Reale, S. Gburek, S. Terzo, M. Barbera, A. Collura, J. Sylwester, M. Kowalinski, P. Podgorski, M. Gryciuk
Projects: Hinode/XRT

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2012-07-26 13:05
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The role of radiative losses in the late evolution of pulse-heated coronal loops/strands  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2012-05-22 04:25

Radiative losses from optically thin plasma are an important ingredient for modeling plasma confined in the solar corona. Spectral models are continuously updated to include the emission from more spectral lines, with significant effects on radiative losses, especially around 1 MK. We investigate the effect of changing the radiative losses temperature dependence due to upgrading of spectral codes on predictions obtained from modeling plasma confined in the solar corona. The hydrodynamic simulation of a pulse-heated loop strand is revisited comparing results using an old and a recent radiative losses function. We find significant changes in the plasma evolution during the late phases of plasma cooling: when the recent radiative loss curve is used, the plasma cooling rate increases significantly when temperatures reach 1-2 MK. Such more rapid cooling occurs when the plasma density is larger than a threshold value, and therefore in impulsive heating models that cause the loop plasma to become overdense. The fast cooling has the effect of steepening the slope of the emission measure distribution of coronal plasmas with temperature at temperatures lower than ~2 MK. The effects of changes in the radiative losses curves can be important for modeling the late phases of the evolution of pulse-heated coronal loops, and, more in general, of thermally unstable optically thin plasmas.

Authors: F. Reale, E. Landi
Projects: Hinode/EIS,Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA,TRACE

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2012-05-22 08:56
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Hinode/EIS Spectroscopic Validation of Very Hot Plasma Imaged with the Solar Dynamics Observatory in Non-flaring Active Region Cores  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2012-04-27 08:52

We use coronal imaging observations with the Solar Dynamics Observatory/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), and Hinode/Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) spectral data to explore the potential of narrowband EUV imaging data for diagnosing the presence of hot (T ≳ 5 MK) coronal plasma in active regions. We analyze observations of two active regions (AR 11281, AR 11289) with simultaneous AIA imaging and EIS spectral data, including the Ca XVII line (at 192.8 A), which is one of the few lines in the EIS spectral bands sensitive to hot coronal plasma even outside flares. After careful co-alignment of the imaging and spectral data, we compare the morphology in a three-color image combining the 171, 335, and 94 Å AIA spectral bands, with the image obtained for Ca XVII emission from the analysis of EIS spectra. We find that in the selected active regions the Ca XVII emission is strong only in very limited areas, showing striking similarities with the features bright in the 94 Å (and 335 A) AIA channels and weak in the 171 Å band. We conclude that AIA imaging observations of the solar corona can be used to track hot plasma (6-8 MK), and so to study its spatial variability and temporal evolution at high spatial and temporal resolution.

Authors: Testa, P., Reale, F.
Projects: Hinode/EIS,SDO-AIA

Publication Status: ApJ Letters, 2012, 750, L10
Last Modified: 2012-04-27 09:07
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Title: Monte Carlo Markov Chain DEM reconstruction of isothermal plasmas  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2011-12-14 03:36

In this paper, we carry out tests on the Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC)technique with the aim of determining: 1) its ability to retrieve isothermalplasmas from a set of spectral line intensities, with and without random noise;2) to what extent can it discriminate between an isothermal solution and anarrow multithermal distribution; and 3) how well it can detect multipleisothermal components along the line of sight. We also test the effects of 4)atomic data uncertainties on the results, and 5) the number of ions whose linesare available for the DEM reconstruction. We find that the MCMC technique isunable to retrieve isothermal plasmas to better than Delta log T = 0.05. Also,the DEM curves obtained using lines calculated with an isothermal plasma andwith a Gaussian distribution with FWHM of log T = 0.05 are very similar. Twonear-isothermal components can be resolved if their temperature separation isDelta log T = 0.2 or larger. Thus, DEM diagnostics has an intrinsic resolvingpower of log T = 0.05. Atomic data uncertainties may significantly affect bothtemperature and peak DEM values, but do not alter our conclusions. Theavailability of small sets of lines also does not worsen the performance of theMCMC technique, provided these lines are formed in a wide temperature range.Our analysis shows the present limitations in our ability to identify thepresence of strictly isothermal plasmas in stellar and solar coronal spectra.

Authors: E. Landi, F. Reale, P. Testa
Projects: Hinode/EIS,Hinode/XRT,SDO-AIA,SDO-EVE,SoHO-CDS,SoHO-SUMER

Publication Status: accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2011-12-14 08:53
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Post-flare UV light curves explained with thermal instability of loop plasma  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2011-11-16 02:11

In the present work we study the C8 flare occurred on September 26, 2000 at19:49 UT and observed by the SOHO/SUMER spectrometer from the beginning of theimpulsive phase to well beyond the disappearance in the X-rays. The emissionfirst decayed progressively through equilibrium states until the plasma reached2-3 MK. Then, a series of cooler lines, i.e. Ca x, Ca vii, Ne vi, O iv and Siiii (formed in the temperature range log T = 4.3 - 6.3 under equilibriumconditions), are emitted at the same time and all evolve in a similar way. Herewe show that the simultaneous emission of lines with such a different formationtemperature is due to thermal instability occurring in the flaring plasma assoon as it has cooled below ~ 2 MK. We can qualitatively reproduce the relativestart time of the light curves of each line in the correct order with a simple(and standard) model of a single flaring loop. The agreement with the observedlight curves is greatly improved, and a slower evolution of the line emissionis predicted, if we assume that the model loop consists of an ensemble ofsubloops or strands heated at slightly different times. Our analysis can beuseful for flare observations with SDO/EVE.

Authors: F. Reale, E. Landi, S. Orlando
Projects: SoHO-SUMER

Publication Status: accepted for publication in the ApJ
Last Modified: 2011-11-16 13:19
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Solar Dynamics Observatory discovers thin high temperature strands in coronal active regions  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2011-06-16 05:28

One scenario proposed to explain the million degrees solar corona is afinely-stranded corona where each strand is heated by a rapid pulse. However,such fine structure has neither been resolved through direct imagingobservations nor conclusively shown through indirect observations of extendedsuperhot plasma. Recently it has been shown that the observed difference inappearance of cool and warm coronal loops (~1 MK, ~2-3 MK, respectively) -warm loops appearing 'fuzzier' than cool loops - can be explained by models ofloops composed of subarcsecond strands, which are impulsively heated up to ~10MK. That work predicts that images of hot coronal loops (>~6 MK) should againshow fine structure. Here we show that the predicted effect is indeed widelyobserved in an active region with the Solar Dynamics Observatory, thussupporting a scenario where impulsive heating of fine loop strands plays animportant role in powering the active corona.

Authors: Fabio Reale, Massimiliano Guarrasi, Paola Testa, Edward E. DeLuca, Giovanni Peres, Leon Golub
Projects: SDO-AIA

Publication Status: accepted for publication on ApJLetters
Last Modified: 2011-06-17 11:41
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Comparison of Hinode/XRT and RHESSI detection of hot plasma in the non-flaring solar corona  

Fabio Reale   Submitted: 2009-09-30 05:07

We compare observations of the non-flaring solar corona made simultaneously with Hinode/XRT and with RHESSI. The analyzed corona is dominated by a single active region on 12 November 2006. The comparison is made on emission measures. We derive emission measure distributions vs temperature of the entire active region from multifilter XRT data. We check the compatibility with the total emission measure values estimated from the flux measured with RHESSI if the emission come from isothermal plasma. We find that RHESSI and XRT data analyses consistently point to the presence of a minor emission measure component peaking at log T ~ 6.8-6.9. The discrepancy between XRT and RHESSI results is within a factor of a few and indicates an acceptable level of cross-consistency.

Authors: F. Reale, J. M. McTiernan, P. Testa
Projects: Hinode/XRT,RHESSI

Publication Status: ApJL, 704, L58
Last Modified: 2009-10-01 07:42
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Abstracts by Author
3D MHD modeling of twisted coronal loops
Plasma sloshing in pulse-heated solar and stellar coronal loops
EUV Flickering of Solar Coronal Loops: A New Diagnostic of Coronal Heating
Time-resolved Emission from Bright Hot Pixels of an Active Region Observed in the EUV Band with SDO/AIA and Multi-stranded Loop Modeling
Using the transit of Venus to probe the upper planetary atmosphere
Bright hot impacts by erupted fragments falling back on the Sun: UV redshifts in stellar accretion
Coronal Loops: Observations and Modeling of Confined Plasma
MHD modeling of coronal loops: injection of high-speed chromospheric flows
Thermal structure of hot non-flaring corona from Hinode/EIS
MHD modeling of coronal loops: the transition region throat
X-raying hot plasma in solar active regions with the SphinX spectrometer
The role of radiative losses in the late evolution of pulse-heated coronal loops/strands
Hinode/EIS Spectroscopic Validation of Very Hot Plasma Imaged with the Solar Dynamics Observatory in Non-flaring Active Region Cores
Title: Monte Carlo Markov Chain DEM reconstruction of isothermal plasmas
Post-flare UV light curves explained with thermal instability of loop plasma
Solar Dynamics Observatory discovers thin high temperature strands in coronal active regions
Comparison of Hinode/XRT and RHESSI detection of hot plasma in the non-flaring solar corona

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