Properties of magnetic null points associated with X-class flares during solar cycle 24

R. L. Edgar, S. Regnier*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Since the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in 2010 and throughout the solar cycle 24, the Sun has produced few tens of X-class flares, which are the most energetic solar events. Those flares are produced in regions where the magnetic flux/energy is large and the magnetic configurations are complex. To provide more insights into the flaring process, we investigate the properties of magnetic null points (MNPs) and their correlation with the energy release sites. During solar cycle 24, we identify 17 X-class flares satisfying selection criteria. From SDO/HMI magnetograms, we perform potential extrapolations around the peak time of the flare to access the 3D coronal magnetic field and thus investigate the existence of coronal MNPs. We then correlate the flaring sites with the existing MNPs using SDO/AIA 171 Å EUV observations, and deduce their properties (sign, spine, fan). Six active regions out of 10 possess at least one MNP which is stable and with large magnetic field gradients: this implies that 35% of X-class flares are associated with a MNP; of which 87.5% of MNPs are of positive type. The MNPs associated with the flare sites are predominantly located at a height between 0.5 and 2 Mm, and with a vertical/radial spine field line. We also find a slight correlation between the MNPs not associated with a flare and negative-type MNPs (55%) within the active region. Regarding the physics of flares, the association between the enhanced intensity at the flaring site and a MNP represents about a third of the possible scenarios for triggering X-class flares.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-762
Number of pages8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume532
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jun 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2024

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