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We have studied the properties and evolution of several active regions observed at multiple wavelengths over a period of about 10 days. We have used simultaneous microwave (1.5 and 17 GHz) and soft X-ray measurements made with the Very Large Array (VLA), the Nobeyama Radio Heliograph (NRH) and the Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) on board the Yohkoh spacecraft, as well as photospheric magnetograms from KPNO. This is the first detailed comparison between observations at radio wavelengths differing by one order of magnitude. We have performed morphological and quantitative studies of active region properties by making inter-comparison between observations at different wavelengths and tracking the day-to-day variations. We have found good general agreement between the 1.5 and 17 GHz radio maps and the soft X-rays images. The 17 GHz emission is consistent with thermal bremsstrahlung (free-free) emission from electrons at coronal temperatures plus a small component coming from plasma at lower temperatures. We did not find any systematic limb darkening of the microwave emission from active regions. We discuss the difference between the observed microwave brightness temperature and the one expected from X-ray data and in terms of emission of a low temperature plasma at the transition region level. We found a coronal optical thickness of ∼ 10−3 and ∼ 1 for radiation at 17 and 1.5 GHz, respectively. We have also estimated the typical coronal values of emission measure (∼ 5 × 1028 cm−5), electron temperature (∼ 4.5 × 106 K) and density (∼ 1.2 × 109 cm−3). Assuming that the emission mechanism at 17 GHz is due to thermal free-free emission, we calculated the magnetic field in the source region using the observed degree of polarization. From the degree of polarization, we infer that the 17 GHz radiation is confined to the low-lying inner loop system of the active region. We also extrapolated the photospheric magnetic field distribution to the coronal level and found it to be in good agreement with the coronal magnetic field distribution obtained from microwave observations.

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