Studies of microflares in RHESSI hard X-ray, Big Bear Solar Observatory Hα, and Michelson Doppler imager magnetograms

Chang Liu, Jiong Qiu, Dale Gary, Säm Krucker, Haimin Wang

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In this paper, we present a study of the morphology of 12 microflares jointly observed by RHESSI in the energy range from 3 to 15 keV and by Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) at the Hα line. They are A2-B3 events in GOES classification. From their time profiles, we find that all of these microflares are seen in soft X-ray, hard X-ray, and Hα wavelengths, and their temporal evolution resembles that of large flares. Co-aligned hard X-ray, Hα, and magnetic field observations show that the events all occurred in active regions and were located near magnetic neutral lines. In almost all of the events, the hard X-ray sources are elongated structures connecting two Hα bright kernels in opposite magnetic fields. These results suggest that, similar to large flares, the X-ray sources of the microflares represent emission from small magnetic loops and that the Hα bright kernels indicate emission at footpoints of these flare loops in the lower atmosphere. Among the 12 microflares, we include five events that are clearly associated with type III radio bursts as observed by the radio spectrometer on board Wind. Spectral fitting results indicate the nonthermal origin of the X-ray emission at over ∼10 keV during the impulsive phase of all the events, and the photon spectra of the microflares associated with type III bursts are generally harder than those without type III bursts. TRACE observations at EUV wavelengths are available for five events in our list, and in two of these, coincident EUV jets are clearly identified to be spatially associated with the microflares. Such findings suggest that some microflares are produced by magnetic reconnection, which results in closed compact loops and open field lines. Electrons accelerated during the flare escape along the open field lines to interplanetary space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Mar 20 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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