Non-gaussian velocity distributions in solar flares from extreme ultraviolet lines: a possible diagnostic of ion acceleration

Jeffrey, N. L.S. , Fletcher, L. and Labrosse, N. (2017) Non-gaussian velocity distributions in solar flares from extreme ultraviolet lines: a possible diagnostic of ion acceleration. Astrophysical Journal, 836(1), (doi:10.3847/1538-4357/836/1/35)

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Abstract

In a solar flare, a large fraction of the magnetic energy released is converted rapidly to the kinetic energy of non-thermal particles and bulk plasma motion. This will likely result in non-equilibrium particle distributions and turbulent plasma conditions. We investigate this by analyzing the profiles of high temperature extreme ultraviolet emission lines from a major flare (SOL2014-03-29T17:44) observed by the EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) on Hinode. We find that in many locations the line profiles are non-Gaussian, consistent with a kappa distribution of emitting ions with properties that vary in space and time. At the flare footpoints, close to sites of hard X-ray emission from non-thermal electrons, the κ index for the Fe xvi 262.976 Å line at 3 MK takes values of 3–5. In the corona, close to a low-energy HXR source, the Fe xxiii 263.760 Å line at 15 MK shows κ values of typically 4–7. The observed trends in the κ parameter show that we are most likely detecting the properties of the ion population rather than any instrumental effects. We calculate that a non-thermal ion population could exist if locally accelerated on timescales ≤0.1 s. However, observations of net redshifts in the lines also imply the presence of plasma downflows, which could lead to bulk turbulence, with increased non-Gaussianity in cooler regions. Both interpretations have important implications for theories of solar flare particle acceleration.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fletcher, Professor Lyndsay and Jeffrey, Dr Natasha and Labrosse, Dr Nicolas
Authors: Jeffrey, N. L.S., Fletcher, L., and Labrosse, N.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Astrophysical Journal
Publisher:American Astronomical Society
ISSN:0004-637X
ISSN (Online):1538-4357
Published Online:07 February 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 American Astronomical Society
First Published:First published in Astrophysical Journal 2017
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
631581Consolidated grant in solar and astrophysical plasmasLyndsay FletcherScience & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)ST/L000741/1S&E P&A - PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY
595181Chromospheric Flares: Observations, Models and Archives (CHROMA)Lyndsay FletcherEuropean Commission (EC)606862P&A - PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY