Do All Flares Have White-Light Emission?

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High-cadence, multiwavelength optical observations of a solar active region (NOAA AR 10969), obtained with the Swedish Solar Telescope, are presented. Difference imaging of white light continuum data reveals a white-light brightening, 2 minutes in duration, linked to a cotemporal and cospatial C2.0 flare event. The flare kernel observed in the white-light images has a diameter of 300 km, thus rendering it below the resolution limit of most space-based telescopes. Continuum emission is present only during the impulsive stage of the flare, with the effects of chromospheric emission subsequently delayed by approximate to 2 minutes. The localized flare emission peaks at 300% above the quiescent flux. This large, yet tightly confined, increase in emission is only resolvable due to the high spatial resolution of the Swedish Solar Telescope. An investigation of the line-of-sight magnetic field derived from simultaneous MDI data shows that the continuum brightening is located very close to a magnetic polarity inversion line. In addition, an Ha flare ribbon is directed along a region of rapid magnetic energy change, with the footpoints of the ribbon remaining cospatial with the observed white-light brightening throughout the duration of the flare. The observed flare parameters are compared with current observations and theoretical models for M- and X-class events and we determine the observed white-light emission is caused by radiative back-warming. We suggest that the creation of white-light emission is a common feature of all solar flares.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L119-L122
Number of pages4
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Early online date03 Nov 2008
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

These observations have been funded by the Optical Infrared Coordination network (OPTICON), a major international collaboration supported by the Research Infrastructures Programme of the European Commissions Sixth Framework Programme.


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