The Energetics of White-light Flares Observed by SDO/HMI and RHESSI

Neng Yi Huang, Yan Xu, Haimin Wang

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9 Scopus citations


White-light (WL) flares have been observed and studied for more than a century since their first discovery. However, some fundamental physics behind the brilliant emission remains highly controversial. One of the important facts in addressing the flare energetics is the spatio-temporal correlation between the WL emission and the hard X-ray (HXR) radiation, presumably suggesting that energetic electrons are the energy sources. In this study, we present a statistical analysis of 25 strong flares (≥M5) observed simultaneously by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI). Among these events, WL emission was detected by SDO/HMI in 13 flares, associated with HXR emission. To quantitatively describe the strength of WL emission, equivalent area (EA) is defined as the integrated contrast enhancement over the entire flaring area. Our results show that the EA is inversely proportional to the HXR power-law index, indicating that stronger WL emission tends to be associated with a larger population of high energy electrons. However, no obvious correlation is found between WL emission and flux of non-thermal electrons at 50 keV. For the other group of 13 flares without detectable WL emission, the HXR spectra are softer (larger power-law index) than those flares with WL emission, especially for the X-class flares in this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number177
JournalResearch in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Sun: flares
  • Sun: hard X-ray
  • Sun: white-light


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