Characteristic size of flare kernels in the visible and near-infrared continua

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19 Scopus citations


In this Letter, we present a new approach to estimate the formation height of visible and near-infrared emission of an X10 flare. The sizes of flare emission cores in three wavelengths are accurately measured during the peak of the flare. The source size is the largest in the G band at 4308 Å and shrinks toward longer wavelengths, namely the green continuum at 5200 Å and NIR at 15600 Å, where the emission is believed to originate from the deeper atmosphere. This size-wavelength variation is likely explained by the direct heating model as electrons need to move along converging field lines from the corona to the photosphere. Therefore, one can observe the smallest source, which in our case is 0″.65 ± 0″.02 in the bottom layer (represented by NIR), and observe relatively larger kernels in upper layers of 1″.03 ± 0″.14 and 1″.96 ± 0″.27, using the green continuum and G band, respectively. We then compare the source sizes with a simple magnetic geometry to derive the formation height of the white-light sources and magnetic pressure in different layers inside the flare loop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL7
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: infrared
  • Sun: photosphere


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