Volume 612, April 2018
|Number of page(s)
|04 May 2018
The origin of two X-class flares in active region NOAA 12673
Shear flows and head-on collision of new and preexisting flux★
Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP),
An der Sternwarte 16,
Accepted: 24 January 2018
Flare-prolific active region NOAA 12673 produced consecutive X2.2 and X9.3 flares on the 6 September 2017. To scrutinize the morphological, magnetic, and horizontal flow properties associated with these flares, a seven-hour time series was used consisting of continuum images, line-of-sight and vector magnetograms, and 1600 Å UV images. These data were acquired with the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA). The white-light flare emission differed for both flares, while the X2.2 flare displayed localized, confined flare kernels, the X9.3 flare exhibited a two-ribbon structure. In contrast, the excess UV emission exhibited a similar structure for both flares, but with larger areal extent for the X9.3 flare. These two flares represented a scenario in which the first confined flare acted as precursor, setting up the stage for the more extended flare. Difference maps for continuum and magnetograms revealed locations of significant changes, that is, penumbral decay and umbral strengthening. The curved magnetic polarity inversion line in the δ-spot was the fulcrum of most changes. Horizontal proper motions were computed using the differential affine velocity estimator for vector magnetograms (DAVE4VM). Persistent flow features included (1) strong shear flows along the polarity inversion line, where the negative, parasitic polarity tried to bypass the majority, positive-polarity part of the δ-spot in the north, (2) a group of positive-polarity spots, which moved around the δ-spot in the south, moving away from the δ-spot with significant horizontal flow speeds, and (3) intense moat flows partially surrounding the penumbra of several sunspots, which became weaker in regions with penumbral decay. The enhanced flare activity has its origin in the head-on collision of newly emerging flux with an already existing regular, α-spot. Umbral cores of emerging bipoles were incorporated in its penumbra, creating a δ-configuration with an extended polarity inversion line, as the parasitic umbral cores were stretched while circumventing the majority polarity.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: flares / sunspots / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO 2018
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