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Published August 1994 | Published
Journal Article Open

The roots of coronal structure in the Sun's surface


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 MgX and FeXVI, formed at 1 × 10⁶ K and 3 × 10⁶ K, respectively. The brightest Hα sources correspond to a dying sub-flare and other active region components, all of which reveal coronal enhancements situated spatially well above the Hα 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 Hα 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 Hα features, while unipolar Hα 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 Hα data shows that all the Hα 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.

Additional Information

© 1994 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 07 July 1993; Revised 13 April 1994. The NIXT sounding rocket program is supported by NASA Grant NAG5-626 to the Smithsonian Institution (SI). Support for this collaborative program was provided by grant ATM-9119514 from the NSF to SI. The BBSO programs were supported by ONR grant N00014-89-J-1069, NASA NAGW-1972 and NSF ATM-9122023, and part of Haimin Wang's participation by NASA GRO Fellowship NAG5-2090.

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September 15, 2023
September 15, 2023