Friday, March 15, 2013

1303.3321 (Wei Liu et al.)

Plasmoid Ejections and Loop Contractions in an Eruptive M7.7 Solar Flare: Evidence of Particle Acceleration and Heating in Magnetic Reconnection Outflows    [PDF]

Wei Liu, Qingrong Chen, Vahe' Petrosian
Where particle acceleration and plasma heating take place in relation to magnetic reconnection is a fundamental question for solar flares. We report analysis of an M7.7 flare on 2012 July 19 observed by SDO/AIA and RHESSI. Bi-directional outflows in forms of plasmoid ejections and contracting cusp-shaped loops originate between an erupting flux rope and underlying flare loops at speeds of typically 200-300 km/s up to 1050 km/s. These outflows are associated with spatially separated double coronal X-ray sources with centroid separation decreasing with energy. The highest temperature is located near the nonthermal X-ray loop-top source well below the original heights of contracting cusps near the inferred reconnection site. These observations suggest that the primary loci of particle acceleration and plasma heating are in the reconnection outflow regions, rather than the reconnection site itself. In addition, there is an initial ascent of the X-ray and EUV loop-top source prior to its recently recognized descent, which we ascribe to the interplay among multiple processes including the upward development of reconnection and the downward contractions of reconnected loops. The impulsive phase onset is delayed by 10 minutes from the start of the descent, but coincides with the rapid speed increases of the upward plasmoids, the individual loop shrinkages, and the overall loop-top descent, suggestive of an intimate relation of the energy release rate and reconnection outflow speed.
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