X-ray emitting hot plasma in solar active regions observed by the SphinX spectrometer
Dipartimento di FisicaUniversità di Palermo,
Piazza del Parlamento 1,
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy
3 Space Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, 51-622, Kopernika 11, Wrocław, Poland
Received: 24 May 2012
Accepted: 17 July 2012
Aims. The detection of very hot plasma in the quiescent corona is important for diagnosing heating mechanisms. The presence and the amount of such hot plasma is currently debated. The SphinX instrument on-board the CORONAS-PHOTON mission is sensitive to X-ray emission of energies well above 1 keV and provides the opportunity to detect the hot plasma component.
Methods. We analysed the X-ray spectra of the solar corona collected by the SphinX spectrometer in May 2009 (when two active regions were present). We modelled the spectrum extracted from the whole Sun over a time window of 17 days in the 1.34−7 keV energy band by adopting the latest release of the APED database.
Results. The SphinX broadband spectrum cannot be modelled by a single isothermal component of optically thin plasma and two components are necessary. In particular, the high statistical significance of the count rates and the accurate calibration of the spectrometer allowed us to detect a very hot component at ~7 million K with an emission measure of ~2.7 × 1044 cm-3. The X-ray emission from the hot plasma dominates the solar X-ray spectrum above 4 keV. We checked that this hot component is invariably present in both the high and low emission regimes, i.e. even excluding resolvable microflares. We also present and discuss the possibility of a non-thermal origin (which would be compatible with a weak contribution from thick-target bremsstrahlung) for this hard emission component.
Conclusions. Our results support the nanoflare scenario and might confirm that a minor flaring activity is ever-present in the quiescent corona, as also inferred for the coronae of other stars.
Key words: Sun: corona / methods: observational / techniques: spectroscopic
© ESO, 2012