Turbulent kinetic energy in the energy balance of a solar flare

Kontar, E.P. , Perez, J.E., Harra, L.K., Kuznetsov, A.A., Emslie, A.G., Jeffrey, N.L.S. , Bian, N.H. and Dennis, B.R. (2017) Turbulent kinetic energy in the energy balance of a solar flare. Physical Review Letters, 118(15), 155101. (doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.155101) (PMID:28452537)

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Abstract

The energy released in solar flares derives from a reconfiguration of magnetic fields to a lower energy state, and is manifested in several forms, including bulk kinetic energy of the coronal mass ejection, acceleration of electrons and ions, and enhanced thermal energy that is ultimately radiated away across the electromagnetic spectrum from optical to X-rays. Using an unprecedented set of coordinated observations, from a suite of instruments, we here report on a hitherto largely overlooked energy component -- the kinetic energy associated with small-scale turbulent mass motions. We show that the spatial location of, and timing of the peak in, turbulent kinetic energy together provide persuasive evidence that turbulent energy may play a key role in the transfer of energy in solar flares. Although the kinetic energy of turbulent motions accounts, at any given time, for only \sim (0.5-1)\% of the energy released, its relatively rapid (\sim1-10~s) energization and dissipation causes the associated throughput of energy (i.e., power) to rival that of major components of the released energy in solar flares, and thus presumably in other astrophysical acceleration sites.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Perez Leon, Dr Jose Enrique and Kontar, Dr Eduard and Jeffrey, Dr Natasha and Bian, Dr Nicolas Horace
Authors: Kontar, E.P., Perez, J.E., Harra, L.K., Kuznetsov, A.A., Emslie, A.G., Jeffrey, N.L.S., Bian, N.H., and Dennis, B.R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Physical Review Letters
Publisher:American Physical Society
ISSN:0031-9007
ISSN (Online):1079-7114
Published Online:11 April 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The American Physical Society
First Published:First published in Physical Review Letters 118(15): 115101
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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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