Update available: http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2014-4
Coronal loops are the building blocks of the X-ray bright solar corona. They owe their brightness to the dense confined plasma, and this review focuses on loops mostly as structures confining plasma. After a brief historical overview, the review is divided into two separate but not independent parts: the first illustrates the observational framework, the second reviews the theoretical knowledge. Quiescent loops and their confined plasma are considered, and therefore topics such as loop oscillations and flaring loops (except for non-solar ones which provide information on stellar loops) are not specifically addressed here. The observational section discusses loop classification and populations, and then describes the morphology of coronal loops, its relationship with the magnetic field, and the concept of loops as multi-stranded structures. The following part of this section is devoted to the characteristics of the loop plasma and of its thermal structure in particular, according to the classification into hot, warm, and cool loops. Then, temporal analyses of loops and the observations of plasma dynamics and flows are illustrated. In the modeling section some basics of loop physics are provided, supplying some fundamental scaling laws and timescales, a useful tool for consultation. The concept of loop modeling is introduced and models are distinguished between those treating loops as monolithic and static, and those resolving loops into thin and dynamic strands. Then, more specific discussions address modeling the loop fine structure and the plasma flowing along the loops. Special attention is devoted to the question of loop heating, with separate discussion of wave (AC) and impulsive (DC) heating. Finally, a brief discussion about stellar X-ray emitting structures related to coronal loops is included and followed by conclusions and open questions.
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 7, (2010), 5
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