Letter to the Editor
Positions and sizes of X-ray solar flare sources
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 8 March 2010
Aims. The positions and source sizes of X-ray sources taking into account Compton backscattering (albedo) are investigated.
Methods. Using a Monte Carlo simulation of X-ray photon transport including photo-electric absorption and Compton scattering, we calculate the apparent source sizes and positions of X-ray sources at the solar disk for various source sizes, spectral indices and directivities of the primary source.
Results. We show that the albedo effect can alter the true source positions and substantially increase the measured source sizes. The source positions are shifted by up to ~0.5” radially towards the disk centre and 5 arcsec source sizes can be two times larger even for an isotropic source (minimum albedo effect) at 1 Mm above the photosphere. The X-ray sources therefore should have minimum observed sizes, and thus their FWHM source size (2.35 times second-moment) will be as large as ~7” in the 20-50 keV range for a disk-centered point source at a height of 1 Mm (~1.4”) above the photosphere. The source size and position change is greater for flatter primary X-ray spectra, a stronger downward anisotropy, for sources closer to the solar disk centre, and between the energies of 30 and 50 keV.
Conclusions. Albedo should be taken into account when X-ray footpoint positions, footpoint motions or source sizes from e.g. RHESSI or Yohkoh data are interpreted, and we suggest that footpoint sources should be larger in X-rays than in either optical or EUV ranges.
Key words: Sun: flares / Sun: activity / Sun: X-rays, gamma rays / Sun: chromosphere
© ESO, 2010