Core and Wing Densities of Asymmetric Coronal Spectral Profiles: Implications for the Mass Supply of the Solar Corona
Recent solar spectroscopic observations have shown that coronal spectral lines can exhibit asymmetric profiles, with enhanced emissions at their blue wings. These asymmetries correspond to rapidly upflowing plasmas at speeds exceeding ≈50 km s-1. Here, we perform a study of the density of the rapidly upflowing material and compare it with that of the line core that corresponds to the bulk of the plasma. For this task, we use spectroscopic observations of several active regions taken by the Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer of the Hinode mission. The density sensitive ratio of the Fe XIV lines at 264.78 and 274.20 Å is used to determine wing and core densities. We compute the ratio of the blue wing density to the core density and find that most values are of order unity. This is consistent with the predictions for coronal nanoflares if most of the observed coronal mass is supplied by chromospheric evaporation driven by the nanoflares. However, much larger blue wing-to-core density ratios are predicted if most of the coronal mass is supplied by heated material ejected with type II spicules. Our measurements do not rule out a spicule origin for the blue wing emission, but they argue against spicules being a primary source of the hot plasma in the corona. We note that only about 40% of the pixels where line blends could be safely ignored have blue wing asymmetries in both Fe XIV lines. Anticipated sub-arcsecond spatial resolution spectroscopic observations in future missions could shed more light on the origin of blue, red, and mixed asymmetries.