Spectral and Imaging Diagnostics of Spatially Extended Turbulent Electron Acceleration and Transport in Solar Flares

Morgan Stores*, Natasha L. S. Jeffrey, James A. McLaughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Solar flares are efficient particle accelerators with a large fraction of released magnetic energy (10%–50%) converted into energetic particles such as hard X-ray producing electrons. This energy transfer process is not well constrained, with competing theories regarding the acceleration mechanism(s), including MHD turbulence. We perform a detailed parameter study examining how various properties of the acceleration region, including its spatial extent and the spatial distribution of turbulence, affect the observed electron properties, such as those routinely determined from X-ray imaging and spectroscopy. Here, a time-independent Fokker–Planck equation is used to describe the acceleration and transport of flare electrons through a coronal plasma of finite temperature. Motivated by recent nonthermal line broadening observations that suggested extended regions of turbulence in coronal loops, an extended turbulent acceleration region is incorporated into the model. We produce outputs for the density-weighted electron flux, a quantity directly related to observed X-rays, modeled in energy and space from the corona to chromosphere. We find that by combining several spectral and imaging diagnostics (such as spectral index differences or ratios, energy or spatial-dependent flux ratios, and electron depths into the chromosphere) the acceleration properties, including the timescale and velocity dependence, can be constrained alongside the spatial properties. Our diagnostics provide a foundation for constraining the properties of acceleration in an individual flare from X-ray imaging spectroscopy alone, and can be applied to past, current, and future observations including those from RHESSI and Solar Orbiter.
Original languageEnglish
Article number53
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2023

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