, Volume 224, Issue 1-2, pp 255-268

The Temperature of the Low Corona During Solar Cycles 21–23

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Abstract

Observations of the forbidden coronal lines Fe xiv 530.3 nm and Fe x 637.4 nm obtained at the National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak are used to determine the variation of coronal temperature at latitudes above 30 during solar activity cycles 21–23. Features of the long-term variation of emission in the two lines are also discussed. Temperatures at latitudes below 30 are not studied because the technique used to determine the coronal temperature is not applicable in active regions. The polar temperature varies cyclically from approximately 1.3 to 1.7 MK. The temperatures are similar in both hemispheres. The temperature near solar minimum decreases strongly from mid-latitudes to the poles. The temperature of the corona above 80 latitude generally follows the sunspot cycle, with minima in 1985 and 1995–1996 (cf. 1986 and 1996 for the smoothed sunspot number, Rz) and maxima in 1989 and 2000 (cf. 1989 and 2000 for Rz). The temperature of the corona above 30 latitude at solar maximum is nearly uniform, i.e., there is little latitude dependence. If the maximum temperatures of cycles 22 and 23 are aligned in time (superposed epochs), the average annual N + S temperature (average of the northern and southern hemisphere) in cycle 23 is hotter than that in cycle 22 at all times both above 80 latitude and above 30 latitude. The difference in the average annual N + S maximum temperature between cycles 23 and 22 was 56 kK near the poles and 64 kK for all latitudes above 30. Cycle 23 was also hotter at mid-latitudes than cycle 22 by 60 kK. The last 3 years of cycle 21 were hotter than the last 3 years of cycle 22. The difference in average annual N + S temperatures at the end of cycles 21 and 22 was 32 kK near the poles and 23 kK for all latitudes above 30. Cycle 21 was also hotter at mid-latitudes than cycle 22 by at least 90 kK. Thus, there does not seem to be a solar-cycle trend in the low-coronal temperature outside of active regions.