Thermodynamics of supra-arcade downflows in solar flares⋆
1 Space Weather Research Laboratory, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102-1982, USA
2 CAS Key Laboratory of Geospace Environment, Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, PR China
3 Collaborative Innovation Center of Astronautical Science and Technology, Hefei, Anhui 230026, PR China
Received: 13 October 2016
Accepted: 1 June 2017
Context. Supra-arcade downflows (SADs) have been frequently observed during the gradual phase of solar flares near the limb. In coronal emission lines sensitive to flaring plasmas, they appear as tadpole-like dark voids against the diffuse fan-shaped “haze” above, flowing toward the well-defined flare arcade.
Aims. We aim to investigate the evolution of SADs’ thermal properties, and to shed light on the formation mechanism and physical processes of SADs.
Methods. We carefully studied several selected SADs from two flare events and calculated their differential emission measures (DEMs) as well as DEM-weighted temperatures using data obtained by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) onboard the Solar Dynamic Observatory.
Results. Our analysis shows that SADs are associated with a substantial decrease in DEM above 4 MK, which is 1–3 orders of magnitude smaller than the surrounding haze as well as the region before or after the passage of SADs, but comparable to the quiet corona. There is no evidence for the presence of the SAD-associated hot plasma (>20 MK) in the AIA data, and this decrease in DEM does not cause any significant change in the DEM distribution as well as the DEM-weighted temperature, which supports this idea that SADs are density depletion. This depression in DEM rapidly recovers in the wake of the SADs studied, generally within a few minutes, suggesting that they are discrete features. In addition, we found that SADs in one event are spatio-temporally associated with the successive formation of post-flare loops along the flare arcade.
Key words: Sun: flares / Sun: corona / Sun: activity
Movies associated to Figs. A.1 and A.2 are available at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2017