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  what are coronal loops?
  zooming in on loops with TRACE
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what are coronal loops?

 

We see loops where part of the Sun's magnetic field has popped up through the surface in a tangled mess. The magnetic field holds and guides the plasma of the corona into the strangest shapes. It's rather like having an invisible road (the magnetic field), but being able to figure out where the road goes by watching the traffic (the plasma) on it.

 

 

 

Loops in the Sun's atmosphere run between north and south poles of a magnetic field. Often the north and south poles are found in pairs of sunspots.

 

It is useful to think of the field in a single solar loop as being like that from an imaginary bar magnet underneath the surface

 

An example of how materials respond to magnetic fields is the pattern of iron filings around a bar magnet. The filings line up into loops going from the north pole to the south pole of the magnet. The same happens with plasma in loops on the Sun.

 

The magnetic field traps material, which can then only move along the loop, not across it.

 
         
You can see more movies in our Gallery  

[Movie file 1mb or more - High quality]

Here's a close up movie of an active region as it moves with the Sun's rotation over several days. See how the active region changes with different hot loops lighting up at different times.

         
   

 

   
 
 

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