Broken-up spectra of the loop-top hard X-ray source during a solar limb flare

Hao Ning, Yao Chen, Jeongwoo Lee, Zhao Wu, Yang Su, Xiang Liang Kong

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8 Scopus citations


Solar hard X-rays (HXRs) appear in the form of either footpoint sources or coronal sources. Each individual source provides its own critical information on acceleration of nonthermal electrons and plasma heating. Earlier studies found that the HXR emission in some events manifests a broken-up power-law spectrum, with the break energy around a few hundred keV based on spatially-integrated spectral analysis, and it does not distinguish the contributions from individual sources. In this paper, we report on the broken-up spectra of a coronal source studied using HXR data recorded by Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) during the SOL2017-09-10T16:06 (GOES class X8.2) flare. The flare occurred behind the western limb and its footpoint sources were mostly occulted by the disk. We could clearly identify such broken-up spectra pertaining solely to the coronal source during the flare peak time and after. Since a significant pileup effect on the RHESSI spectra is expected for this intense solar flare, we have selected the pileup correction factor, p = 2. In this case, we found the resulting RHESSI temperature (∼30 MK) to be similar to the GOES soft X-ray temperature and break energies of 45-60 keV. Above the break energy, the spectrum hardens with time from spectral index of 3.4 to 2.7, and the difference in spectral indices below and above the break energy increases from 1.5 to 5 with time. However, we note that when p = 2 is assumed, a single power-law fitting is also possible with the RHESSI temperature higher than the GOES temperature by ∼10 MK. Possible scenarios for the broken-up spectra of the loop-top HXR source are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number173
JournalResearch in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Acceleration of particles
  • Gamma rays
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: uv radiation
  • Sun: x-rays


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