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[en] Coronal active regions are observed to get increasingly fuzzy (i.e., increasingly confused and uniform) in increasingly hard energy bands or lines. We explain this as evidence of fine multi-temperature structure of coronal loops. To this end, we model bundles of loops made of thin strands, each heated by short and intense heat pulses. For simplicity, we assume that the heat pulses are all equal and triggered only once in each strand at a random time. The pulse intensity and cadence are selected so as to have steady active region loops (∼3 MK) on average. We compute the evolution of the confined heated plasma with a hydrodynamic loop model. We then compute the emission along each strand in several spectral lines, from cool (≤1 MK), to warm (2-3 MK) lines, detectable with Hinode/Extreme-ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer, to hot X-ray lines. The strands are then put side by side to construct an active region loop bundle. We find that in the warm lines (2-3 MK) the loop emission fills all the available image surface. Therefore, the emission appears quite uniform and it is difficult to resolve the single loops, while in the cool lines the loops are considerably more contrasted and the region is less fuzzy. The main reasons for this effect are that, during their evolution, i.e., pulse heating and slow cooling, each strand spends a relatively long time at temperatures around 2-3 MK and it has a high emission measure during that phase, so the whole region appears more uniform or smudged. We predict that fuzziness should be reduced in the hot UV and X-ray lines.
[en] We have carried out a detailed analysis of highly ionized neon spectra collected at the NIST EBIT using an NTD germanium X-ray microcalorimeter developed at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics [Nucl. Instr. and Meth. A 444 (2000) 156]. Our attention was focused especially on the Ne IX He-like triplet to check electron density diagnostics through the intercombination/forbidden line ratio. We have investigated possible effects of the ion dynamics on the plasma emission line intensities, looking at the dependence of the count-rate and the charge state distribution on the electron beam energy and current. The temperature and spatial distribution of the neon ions, and hence the overlap between the electron beam and the ion cloud, depend on the electron beam operating parameters. The overlap affects the average electron density seen by the ions, and in turn the measured line ratio. These results underscore the value of future improved studies of the trapped ion dynamics, both for understanding the EBIT performance and for allowing experimenters to take full advantage of its potential for astrophysical plasma diagnostics
[en] One scenario proposed to explain the million degree solar corona is a finely stranded corona where each strand is heated by a rapid pulse. However, such fine structure has neither been resolved through direct imaging observations nor conclusively shown through indirect observations of extended superhot plasma. Recently, it has been shown that the observed difference in the appearance of cool and warm coronal loops (∼1 MK and ∼2-3 MK, respectively)-warm loops appearing 'fuzzier' than cool loops-can be explained by models of loops composed of subarcsecond strands, which are impulsively heated up to ∼10 MK. That work predicts that images of hot coronal loops (∼> 6 MK) should again show fine structure. Here we show that the predicted effect is indeed widely observed in an active region with the Solar Dynamics Observatory, thus supporting a scenario where impulsive heating of fine loop strands plays an important role in powering the active corona.