Spectral evolution of microwaves and hard X-rays in the 1989 March 18 flare and its interpretation

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We analyze the time variation of microwave spectra and hard X-ray spectra of 1989 March 18, which are obtained from the Solar Array at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) and the Hard X-Ray Burst Spectrometer (HXRBS) on the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM), respectively. From this observation, it is noted that the hard X-ray spectra gradually soften over 50-200 keV on-and-after the maximum phase while the microwaves at 1-15 GHz show neither a change in spectral shape nor as rapid a decay as hard X-rays. This leads to decoupling of hard X-rays from the microwaves in the decay phase away from their good correlation seen in the initial rise phase. To interpret this observation, we adopt a view that microwave-emitting particles and hard X-ray particles are physically separated in an inhomogeneous magnetic loop, but linked via interactions with the Whistler waves generated during flares. From this viewpoint, it is argued that the observed decoupling of microwaves from hard X-rays may be due to the different ability of each source region to maintain high energy electrons in response to the Whistler waves passing through the entire loop. To demonstrate this possibility, we solve a Fokker-Planck equation that describes evolution of electrons interacting with the Whistler waves, taking into account the variation of Fokker-Planck coefficients with physical quantities of the background medium. The numerical Fokker-Planck solutions are then used to calculate microwave spectra and hard X-ray spectra for agreement with observations. Our model results are as follows: in a stronger field region, the energy loss by electron escape due to scattering by the waves is greatly enhanced resulting in steep particle distributions that reproduce the observed hard X-ray spectra. In a region with weaker fields and lower density, this loss term is reduced allowing high energy electrons to survive longer so that microwaves can be emitted there in excess of hard X-rays during the decay phase of the flare. Our results based on spectral fitting of a flare event are discussed in comparison with previous studies of microwaves and hard X-rays based on either temporal or spatial information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-365
Number of pages19
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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