The radiated energy budget of Chromospheric Plasma in a major solar flare deduced from multi-wavelength observations

Ryan O. Milligan, Graham S. kerr, Brian R. Dennis, Hugh S. Hudson, Lyndsay Fletcher, Joel C. Allred, Phillip C. Chamberlin, Jack Ireland, Milhalis Mathioudakis, Francis P. Keenan

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This paper presents measurements of the energy radiated by the lower solar atmosphere, at optical, UV, and EUV wavelengths, during an X-class solar flare (SOL2011-02-15T01:56) in response to an injection of energy assumed to be in the form of nonthermal electrons. Hard X-ray observations from RHESSI were used to track the evolution of the parameters of the nonthermal electron distribution to reveal the total power contained in flare accelerated electrons. By integrating over the duration of the impulsive phase, the total energy contained in the nonthermal electrons was found to be >2 × 1031 erg. The response of the lower solar atmosphere was measured in the free–bound EUV continua of H i (Lyman), He i, and He ii, plus the emission lines of He ii at 304 Å and H i (Lyα) at 1216 Å by SDO/EVE, the UV continua at 1600 Å and 1700 Å by SDO/AIA, and the white light continuum at 4504 Å, 5550 Å, and 6684 Å, along with the Ca ii H line at 3968 Å using Hinode/SOT. The summed energy detected by these instruments amounted to ~3 × 1030 erg; about 15% of the total nonthermal energy. The Lyα line was found to dominate the measured radiative losses. Parameters of both the driving electron distribution and the resulting chromospheric response are presented in detail to encourage the numerical modeling of flare heating for this event, to determine the depth of the solar atmosphere at which these line and continuum processes originate, and the mechanism(s) responsible for their generation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number70
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Early online date08 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2014

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