Evolutionary aspects and north-south asymmetry of soft X-ray flare index during solar cycles 21, 22, and 23
1 Udaipur Solar Observatory, Physical Research Laboratory, 313 004 Udaipur, India
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2 Department of Astronomy, Osmania University, 500 007 Hyderabad, India
3 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, 446-701 Gyeonggi-Do, Korea
Received: 21 April 2015
Accepted: 12 July 2015
Aims. In this paper, we investigate the temporal evolution and north–south (N–S) asymmetry in the occurrence of solar flares during cycle 21, 22, and 23, and compare the results with traditional solar activity indices.
Methods. The flare activity is characterized by a soft X-ray (SXR) flare index, which incorporates information about flare occurrences during a selected interval along with the peak intensity of individual events.
Results. The SXR flare index correlates well with other conventional parameters of solar activity. Further, it exhibits a significantly higher correlation with sunspot area over sunspot number, which suggests the variations in sunspot area to be more closely linked with the transient energy release in the solar corona. The cumulative plots of the flare index indicate a slight excess of activity in the northern hemisphere during cycle 21, while a southern excess clearly prevails for cycles 22 and 23. The study reveals a significant N–S asymmetry, which exhibits variations with the phases of solar cycle. The reliability and persistency of this asymmetry significantly increases when the data is averaged over longer periods, while an optimal level is achieved when data is binned for 13 Carrington rotations. The time evolution of the flare index further confirms evolution of dual peaks in solar cycles during the solar maxima and violation of Gnevyshev-Ohl rule for the pair of solar cycles 22 and 23.
Conclusions. The SXR flare index in the northern and the southern hemispheres of the Sun exhibits significant asymmetry during the evolutionary phases of the solar cycle, which implies that N–S asymmetry of solar flares is manifested in terms of the flare counts as well as the intensity of flare events.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: flares
© ESO, 2015