The flaring and quiescent components of the solar corona
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche ed Astronomiche, Sezione di Astronomia, Università di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy e-mail: [argi;peres;reale]@astropa.unipa.it
2 INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Piazza del Parlamento 1, 90134 Palermo, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 30 April 2008
Context. The solar corona is a template to understand stellar activity. The Sun is a moderately active star, and its corona differs from that of active stars: for instance, active stellar coronae have a double-peaked emission measure distribution with a hot peak at MK, while the non-flaring solar corona has one peak at MK and, typically, much cooler plasma.
Aims. We study the average contribution of flares to the solar emission measure distribution to investigate indirectly the hypothesis that the hot peak in the of active stellar coronae is due to a large number of unresolved solar-like flares, and to infer properties about the flare distribution from nano- to macro-flares.
Methods. We measure the disk-integrated time-averaged emission measure, , of an unbiased sample of solar flares, analyzing uninterrupted GOES/XRS light curves over time intervals of one month. We obtain the of quiescent corona for the same time intervals from Yohkoh/SXT data. To investigate how and vary during the solar cycle, we evaluate them at different phases of the cycle between December 1991 and April 1998.
Results. Irrespective of the solar cycle phase, appears as a peak in the distribution, and it is significantly larger than the values of for MK. As a result, the time-averaged of the entire solar corona is double-peaked, with the hot peak, due to time-averaged flares, being located at temperatures similar to those of active stars, but less enhanced. The shape supports the hypothesis that the hot peak of active coronae is due to unresolved solar-like flares. If this is the case, quiescent and flare components should follow different scaling laws for increasing stellar activity. In the assumption that the heating of the corona is entirely due to flares, from nano- to macro-flares, then either the flare distribution or the confined plasma response to flares, or both, are bimodal.
Key words: stars: activity / stars: coronae / Sun: activity / Sun: corona / Sun: flares / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
© ESO, 2008