Recent imaging observations of EUV line emissions have shown evidence for frequent flare-like events in a majority of the pixels in quiet regions of the solar corona. The changes in coronal emission measure indicate impulsive heating of new material to coronal temperatures. These heating or evaporation events are candidate signatures of 'nanoflares' or 'microflares' proposed to interpret the high temperature and the very existence of the corona. The energy distribution of these micro-events reported in the literature differ widely, and so do the estimates of their total energy input into the corona. Here we analyze the assumptions of the different methods, compare them by using the same data set and discuss their results.
We also estimate the different forms of energy input and output, keeping in mind that the observed brightenings are most likely secondary phenomena. A rough estimate of the energy input observed by EIT on the SoHO satellite is of the order of 10% of the total radiative output in the same region. It is considerably smaller for the two reported TRACE observations. The discrepancy can be explained partially by different thresholds for flare detection. There is agreement on the slope and the absolute value of the distribution if the same method were used and a numerical error corrected. The extrapolation of the power law to unobserved energies that are many orders of magnitude smaller remains questionable. Nevertheless, these micro-events and unresolved smaller events are currently the best source of information on the heating process of the corona.
Authors: Arnold O. Benz and Säm Krucker
Publication Status: ApJ 568, 413-421 (2002)
Last Modified: 2005-11-21 03:31