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Title: ELECTRON ENERGY PARTITION IN THE ABOVE-THE-LOOPTOP SOLAR HARD X-RAY SOURCES

Solar flares produce non-thermal electrons with energies up to tens of MeVs. To understand the origin of energetic electrons, coronal hard X-ray (HXR) sources, in particular above-the-looptop sources, have been studied extensively. However, it still remains unclear how energies are partitioned between thermal and non-thermal electrons within the above-the-looptop source. Here we show that the kappa distribution, when compared to conventional spectral models, can better characterize the above-the-looptop HXRs (≳15 keV) observed in four different cases. The widely used conventional model (i.e., the combined thermal plus power-law distribution) can also fit the data, but it returns unreasonable parameter values due to a non-physical sharp lower-energy cutoff E{sub c}. In two cases, extreme-ultraviolet data were available from SDO/AIA and the kappa distribution was still consistent with the analysis of differential emission measure. Based on the kappa distribution model, we found that the 2012 July 19 flare showed the largest non-thermal fraction of electron energies about 50%, suggesting equipartition of energies. Considering the results of particle-in-cell simulations, as well as density estimates of the four cases studied, we propose a scenario in which electron acceleration is achieved primarily by collisionless magnetic reconnection, but the electron energy partition in the above-the-looptop source dependsmore » on the source density. In low-density above-the-looptop regions (few times 10{sup 9} cm{sup –3}), the enhanced non-thermal tail can remain and a prominent HXR source is created, whereas in higher-densities (>10{sup 10} cm{sup –3}), the non-thermal tail is suppressed or thermalized by Coulomb collisions.« less
Authors:
; ; ;  [1]
  1. Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364417
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 799; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCELERATION; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; EXTREME ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION; GAMMA RADIATION; HARD X RADIATION; KEV RANGE; MAGNETIC RECONNECTION; SOLAR ELECTRONS; SOLAR FLARES; SUN; TAIL ELECTRONS