Volume 544, August 2012
|Number of page(s)||4|
|Published online||15 August 2012|
Understanding the white-light flare on 2012 March 9: evidence of a two-step magnetic reconnection
1 School of Astronomy and Space Science, Nanjing University, 210093 Nanjing, PR China
2 Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics (Nanjing University), Ministry of Education, 210093 Nanjing, PR China
3 Yunnan Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 620011 Kunming, PR China
Received: 3 July 2012
Accepted: 23 July 2012
Aims. We attempt to understand the white-light flare (WLF) that was observed on 2012 March 9 with a newly constructed multi-wavelength solar telescope called the Optical and Near-infrared Solar Eruption Tracer (ONSET).
Methods. We analyzed WLF observations in radio, Hα, white-light, ultraviolet, and X-ray bands. We also studied the magnetic configuration of the flare via the nonlinear force-free field (NLFFF) extrapolation and the vector magnetic field observed by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Results. Continuum emission enhancement clearly appeared at the 3600 Å and 4250 Å bands, with peak contrasts of 25% and 12%, respectively. The continuum emission enhancement closely coincided with the impulsive increase in the hard X-ray emission and a microwave type III burst at 03:40 UT. We find that the WLF appeared at one end of either the sheared or twisted field lines or both. There was also a long-lasting phase in the Hα and soft X-ray bands after the white-light emission peak. In particular, a second, yet stronger, peak appeared at 03:56 UT in the microwave band.
Conclusions. This event shows clear evidence that the white-light emission was caused by energetic particles bombarding the lower solar atmosphere. A two-step magnetic reconnection scenario is proposed to explain the entire process of flare evolution, i.e., the first-step magnetic reconnection between the field lines that are highly sheared or twisted or both, and the second-step one in the current sheet, which is stretched by the erupting flux rope. The WLF is supposed to be triggered in the first-step magnetic reconnection at a relatively low altitude.
Key words: magnetic reconnection / Sun: flares / Sun: magnetic topology / Sun: radio radiation
© ESO, 2012
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