Effect of turbulent density-fluctuations on wave-particle interactions and solar flare X-ray spectra

Hannah, I.G. , Kontar, E.P. and Reid, H.A.S. (2013) Effect of turbulent density-fluctuations on wave-particle interactions and solar flare X-ray spectra. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 550, A51. (doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201220462)

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Aims. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the effect of turbulent background density-fluctuations on flare-accelerated electron transport in the solar corona. Methods. Using the quasi-linear approximation, we numerically simulated the propagation of a beam of accelerated electrons from the solar corona to the chromosphere, including the self-consistent response of the inhomogeneous background plasma in the form of Langmuir waves. We calculated the X-ray spectrum from these simulations using the bremsstrahlung cross-section and fitted the footpoint spectrum using the collisional “thick-target” model, a standard approach adopted in observational studies. Results. We find that the interaction of the Langmuir waves with the background electron density gradient shifts the waves to a higher phase velocity where they then resonate with higher velocity electrons. The consequence is that some of the electrons are shifted to higher energies, producing more high-energy X-rays than expected if the density inhomogeneity is not considered. We find that the level of energy gain is strongly dependent on the initial electron beam density at higher energy and the magnitude of the density gradient in the background plasma. The most significant gains are for steep (soft) spectra that initially had few electrons at higher energies. If the X-ray spectrum of the simulated footpoint emission are fitted with the standard “thick-target” model (as is routinely done with RHESSI observations) some simulation scenarios produce more than an order-of-magnitude overestimate of the number of electrons  >50 keV in the source coronal distribution.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hannah, Dr Iain and Kontar, Professor Eduard and Reid, Dr Hamish
Authors: Hannah, I.G., Kontar, E.P., and Reid, H.A.S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Astronomy and Astrophysics
Publisher:EDP Sciences
ISSN (Online):1432-0746
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
542081Rolling Programme in Solar and Plasma AstrophysicsLyndsay FletcherScience & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)ST/I001808/1P&A - PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY