Global Energetics of Solar Flares. V. Energy Closure in Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections

Markus J. Aschwanden, Amir Caspi, Christina M.S. Cohen, Gordon Holman, Ju Jing, Matthieu Kretzschmar, Eduard P. Kontar, James M. McTiernan, Richard A. Mewaldt, Aidan O'Flannagain, Ian G. Richardson, Daniel Ryan, Harry P. Warren, Yan Xu

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110 Scopus citations


In this study we synthesize the results of four previous studies on the global energetics of solar flares and associated coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which include magnetic, thermal, nonthermal, and CME energies in 399 solar M- and X-class flare events observed during the first 3.5 yr of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission. Our findings are as follows. (1) The sum of the mean nonthermal energy of flare-accelerated particles (), the energy of direct heating (), and the energy in CMEs (), which are the primary energy dissipation processes in a flare, is found to have a ratio of , compared with the dissipated magnetic free energy , which confirms energy closure within the measurement uncertainties and corroborates the magnetic origin of flares and CMEs. (2) The energy partition of the dissipated magnetic free energy is: 0.51 ± 0.17 in nonthermal energy of electrons, 0.17 ± 0.17 in nonthermal ions, 0.07 ± 0.14 in CMEs, and 0.07 ± 0.17 in direct heating. (3) The thermal energy is almost always less than the nonthermal energy, which is consistent with the thick-target model. (4) The bolometric luminosity in white-light flares is comparable to the thermal energy in soft X-rays (SXR). (5) Solar energetic particle events carry a fraction of the CME energy, which is consistent with CME-driven shock acceleration. (6) The warm-target model predicts a lower limit of the low-energy cutoff at , based on the mean peak temperature of the differential emission measure of T e = 8.6 MK during flares. This work represents the first statistical study that establishes energy closure in solar flare/CME events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: UV radiation
  • Sun: X-rays, gamma rays
  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: coronal mass ejections (CMEs)
  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: particle emission


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