Volume 543, July 2012
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||25 June 2012|
Determination of the acceleration region size in a loop-structured solar flare
1 Dipartimento di Matematica, Università di Genova, via Dodecaneso 35, 16146 Genova, Italy
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101, USA
3 School of Physics and Astronomy, SUPA, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
4 CNR – SPIN, via Dodecaneso 33, 16146 Genova, Italy
Received: 4 April 2012
Accepted: 16 May 2012
Aims. To study the acceleration and propagation of bremsstrahlung-producing electrons in solar flares, we analyze the evolution of the flare loop size with respect to energy at a variety of times. A GOES M3.7 loop-structured flare starting around 23:55 on 2002 April 14 is studied in detail using Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) observations.
Methods. We construct photon and mean-electron-flux maps in 2-keV energy bins by processing observationally-deduced photon and electron visibilities, respectively, through several image-processing methods: a visibility-based forward-fit (FWD) algorithm, a maximum entropy (MEM) procedure and the uv-smooth (UVS) approach. We estimate the sizes of elongated flares (i.e., the length and width of flaring loops) by calculating the second normalized moments of the intensity in any given map. Employing a collisional model with an extended acceleration region, we fit the loop lengths as a function of energy in both the photon and electron domains.
Results. The resulting fitting parameters allow us to estimate the extent of the acceleration region which is between ~ 13 arcsec and ~19 arcsec. Both forward-fit and uv-smooth algorithms provide substantially similar results with a systematically better fit in the electron domain.
Conclusions. The consistency of the estimates from these methods provides strong support that the model can reliably determine geometric parameters of the acceleration region. The acceleration region is estimated to be a substantial fraction (~1/2) of the loop extent, indicating that this dense flaring loop incorporates both acceleration and transport of electrons, with concurrent thick-target bremsstrahlung emission.
Key words: Sun: flares / acceleration of particles
© ESO, 2012
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