Anomalous temporal behaviour of broadband Lyα observations during solar flares from SDO/EVE

Ryan O. Milligan, Phillip C. Chamberlin

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Although it is the most prominent emission line in the solar spectrum, there has been a notable lack of studies devoted to variations in Lyα emission during solar flares in recent years. However, the few examples that do exist have shown Lyα emission to be a substantial radiator of the total energy budget of solar flares (of the order of 10%). It is also a known driver of fluctuations in the Earth's ionosphere. The EUV Variability Experiment (EVE) on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory now provides broadband, photometric Lyα data at 10 s cadence with its Multiple EUV Grating Spectrograph-Photometer (MEGS-P) component, and has observed scores of solar flares in the 5 years since it was launched. However, the MEGS-P time profiles appear to display a rise time of tens of minutes around the time of the flare onset. This is in stark contrast to the rapid, impulsive increase observed in other intrinsically chromospheric features (Hα, Lyβ, LyC, C III, etc.). Furthermore, the emission detected by MEGS-P peaks around the time of the peak of thermal soft X-ray emission and not during the impulsive phase when energy deposition in the chromosphere (often assumed to be in the form of non-thermal electrons) is greatest. The time derivative of Lyα lightcurves also appears to resemble that of the time derivative of soft X-rays, reminiscent of the Neupert effect. Given that spectrally-resolved Lyα observations during flares from SORCE/SOLSTICE peak during the impulsive phase as expected, this suggests that the atypical behaviour of MEGS-P data is a manifestation of the broadband nature of the observations. This could imply that other lines and/or continuum emission that becomes enhanced during flares could be contributing to the passband. Users are hereby urged to exercise caution when interpreting broadband Lyα observations of solar flares. Comparisons have also been made with other broadband Lyα photometers such as PROBA2/LYRA and GOES/EUVS-E....
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA123
Number of pages5
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Early online date29 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

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