Non-Gaussian Velocity Distributions in Solar Flares from Extreme Ultraviolet Lines: A Possible Diagnostic of Ion Acceleration

Jeffrey, Natasha, Fletcher, Lyndsay and Labrosse, Nicolas (2017) Non-Gaussian Velocity Distributions in Solar Flares from Extreme Ultraviolet Lines: A Possible Diagnostic of Ion Acceleration. The Astrophysical Journal, 836 (1). p. 35. ISSN 1538-4357

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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: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: atomic data; line: profiles; Sun: flares; Sun: UV radiation; Sun: X-rays, gamma rays; techniques: spectroscopic
Subjects: F300 Physics
F500 Astronomy
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 12:41
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 10:35

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