Measuring Velocities of the Sun’s Ionized Magnetic Loops to Understand Coronal Heating


  • Jessica Chung
  • Pranav Meraga
  • Dr. Art Poland



Our Sun is the largest laboratory in our solar system, holding information unattainable in any experiment made on Earth. One of the thousands of phenomena in solar physics we are experimenting with is: Why is the outermost atmosphere of the sun, the Corona, far hotter than the surface? Despite the spatial barriers preventing us from encountering the sun, we were able to use remote sensing to derive impactful data using the Extreme-Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) of the Hinode Satellite. The satellite provided us with spectra of magnetic loops within the Corona. From these spectral lines, we used the tools provided in IDL, an interactive computer language, to fit the spectral lines and utilized the Doppler Shift equation to determine the velocities of plasma in magnetic loops at various points. By documenting the velocities, we have measured an essential variable of the Conservation of Mass, Momentum, and Energy equations, which allows us to determine the heating rate in these loops. Our observations can be compared with theoretical models to understand the source of energy generation in the outer solar atmosphere.





College of Science: Department of Physics and Astronomy