Evidence of Widespread Hot Plasma in a Nonflaring Coronal Active Region from Hinode/X-Ray Telescope

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.73). 05/2009; 698(1):756. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/698/1/756
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT Nanoflares, short and intense heat pulses within spatially unresolved magnetic strands, are now considered a leading candidate to solve the coronal heating problem. However, the frequent occurrence of nanoflares requires that flare-hot plasma be present in the corona at all times. Its detection has proved elusive until now, in part because the intensities are predicted to be very faint. Here, we report on the analysis of an active region observed with five filters by Hinode/X-Ray Telescope (XRT) in 2006 November. We have used the filter ratio method to derive maps of temperature and emission measure (EM) both in soft and hard ratios. These maps are approximate in that the plasma is assumed to be isothermal along each line of sight. Nonetheless, the hardest available ratio reveals the clear presence of plasma around 10 MK. To obtain more detailed information about the plasma properties, we have performed Monte Carlo simulations assuming a variety of nonisothermal EM distributions along the lines of sight. We find that the observed filter ratios imply bi-modal distributions consisting of a strong cool (log T ~ 6.3 – 6.5) component and a weaker (few percent) and hotter (6.6 < log T < 7.2) component. The data are consistent with bi-modal distributions along all lines of sight, i.e., throughout the active region. We also find that the isothermal temperature inferred from a filter ratio depends sensitively on the precise temperature of the cool component. A slight shift of this component can cause the hot component to be obscured in a hard ratio measurement. Consequently, temperature maps made in hard and soft ratios tend to be anti-correlated. We conclude that this observation supports the presence of widespread nanoflaring activity in the active region.

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