On the fast fluctuations in solar flare Hα blue wing emission

M. D. Ding, Jiong Qiu, Haimin Wang, Philip R. Goode

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27 Scopus citations


Fine temporal structures in hard X-ray and microwave emissions of solar flares have been known for many years. Recent observations with high time and spatial resolution revealed that emissions in the wings of Hα could also exhibit fast (subsecond) fluctuations. We argue that such fluctuations are physically related to the small-scale injection of high-energy electrons. We explore this through numerical calculations. The energy equation and the equations for energy-level populations in hydrogen, in particular including the nonthermal collisional excitation and ionization rates, are solved simultaneously for an atmosphere impacted by a short-lived electron beam. We determine the temporal evolution of the atmospheric temperature, the atomic level populations, and the Hα line intensity. We find that although the background Hα wing emission is mainly formed in the photosphere, the fast fluctuations are probably produced in the chromosphere, which is penetrated by ∼20 keV electrons. To yield Hα wing fluctuations of amplitude comparable to the observations, a mean energy flux of ∼(1-2) × 1011 ergs cm-2 s-1 is required for the electron beam, if one adopts a Gaussian macrovelocity of 25 km s-1. Such a burst contains a total energy of 1025-1026 ergs. These parameters are compatible with elementary flare bursts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - May 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: activity
  • Sun: atmosphere
  • Sun: flares


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