Coronal Loops: Observations and Modeling of Confined Plasma
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 the classification, populations, and the morphology of coronal loops, its relationship with the magnetic field, and the loop stranded structure. The section continues with the thermal properties and diagnostics of the loop plasma, according to the classification into hot, warm, and cool loops. Then, temporal analyses of loops and the observations of plasma dynamics, hot and cool flows, and waves are illustrated. In the modeling section, some basics of loop physics are provided, supplying fundamental scaling laws and timescales, a useful tool for consultation. The concept of loop modeling is introduced and models are divided into those treating loops as monolithic and static, and those resolving loops into thin and dynamic strands. 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. Large-scale models including atmosphere boxes and the magnetic field are also discussed. Finally, a brief discussion about stellar coronal loops is followed by highlights and open questions.