University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > DAMTP Astro Mondays > Heating of the solar corona by nanoflares: Speculative past, quantitative present and uncertain future

Heating of the solar corona by nanoflares: Speculative past, quantitative present and uncertain future

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NOTE UNUSUAL DAY (WEDNESDAY) AND PLACE (MR15)

Heating of the solar corona by nanoflares (commonly defined as small burst of energy release, much smaller than a flare) had its origins in the 1960s and 70s. The energy release is assumed to be facilitated by small-scale magnetic reconnection, though in fact that is not an essential condition for a nanoflare. Proposals by the speaker and others for how nanoflares might be detected originated in the early 1990s but it is only with data from in particular the Hinode and Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft that a quantitative assessment of their reality has proved possible. I will focus on a number of ways nanoflare properties are being inferred, in particular the distribution of plasma as a function of temperature between 1 and 3 MK, the presence of a weak “hot” (10 MK) plasma component in the non-flaring corona, the possibility of fine-scale energy release as represented through a small filling factor, and spectral line broadening by small-scale plasma flows. I will mention briefly evidence for flare-like particle acceleration in nanoflares. Future observational prospects will be mentioned as well as challenges (perhaps insurmountable) facing theory.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Astro Mondays series.

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