The physical processes causing energy exchange between the Sun’s hot corona and its cool lower atmosphere remain poorly understood. The chromosphere and transition region (TR) form an interface region between the surface and the corona that is highly sensitive to the coronal heating mechanism. High-resolution observations with the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) reveal rapid variability (~20 to 60 seconds) of intensity and velocity on small spatial scales (≲500 kilometers) at the footpoints of hot and dynamic coronal loops. The observations are consistent with numerical simulations of heating by beams of nonthermal electrons, which are generated in small impulsive (≲30 seconds) heating events called “coronal nanoflares.” The accelerated electrons deposit a sizable fraction of their energy (≲1025 erg) in the chromosphere and TR. Our analysis provides tight constraints on the properties of such electron beams and new diagnostics for their presence in the nonflaring corona.
- Pub Date:
- October 2014
- ASTRONOMY, ONLINE;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
- Published in Science on October 17: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6207/1255724 . 26 pages, 10 figures. Movies are available at: http://www.lmsal.com/~ptesta/iris_science_mov/