Research at the Center for Astrophyics

Oscillations of Solar Coronal Loops

Solar flare

A solar flare that excited the plasma confined in magnetic field loops to oscillate

During two summers in high school, I interned at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I worked with the solar physics group on analysis of TRACE satellite data. I wrote some code to track coronal loop structures as they oscillate in response to nearby solar flares. From their decaying oscillations, we inferred some of the magnetohydrodynamic properties of the coronal plasma. Coronal loops are plasma structures that follow the paths of magnetic field lines; heavily ionized atoms (in the case of this picture, nine-times-ionized iron) fill the loop structures and can be observed with various filters on the spacecraft. A nearby solar flare exerts an impulsive disturbance on the loops, which begin to oscillate. Our results supported a model of coronal loops as hollow tubes of plasma.

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