The Temperature and Density Structure of the Solar Corona. I. Observations of the Quiet Sun with the EUV Imaging Spectrometer on Hinode
Measurements of the temperature and density structure of the solar corona provide critical constraints on theories of coronal heating. Unfortunately, the complexity of the solar atmosphere, observational uncertainties, and the limitations of current atomic calculations, particularly those for Fe, all conspire to make this task very difficult. A critical assessment of plasma diagnostics in the corona is essential to making progress on the coronal heating problem. In this paper, we present an analysis of temperature and density measurements above the limb in the quiet corona using new observations from the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) on Hinode. By comparing the Si and Fe emission observed with EIS we are able to identify emission lines that yield consistent emission measure distributions. With these data we find that the distribution of temperatures in the quiet corona above the limb is strongly peaked near 1 MK, consistent with previous studies. We also find, however, that there is a tail in the emission measure distribution that extends to higher temperatures. EIS density measurements from several density sensitive line ratios are found to be generally consistent with each other and with previous measurements in the quiet corona. Our analysis, however, also indicates that a significant fraction of the weaker emission lines observed in the EIS wavelength ranges cannot be understood with current atomic data.