Context. The impulsive phase of solar flares is a time of rapid energy deposition and heating in the lower solar atmosphere, leading to changes in the temperature, density, ionisation and velocity structure of this region.
Aims: We aim to study the lower atmosphere during the impulsive phase of a flare using imaging and spectroscopic data from Hinode/EIS, RHESSI and TRACE. We place these observations in context by using a wide range of temperature observations from each instrument.
Methods: We analyse sparse raster data from the Hinode/EIS spectrometer to derive the density and line-of-sight velocity in flare footpoints, in a GOES C6.6 flare observed on 05-June-2007. The raster duration was 150s across the centre of a small active region, allowing multiple exposures of the flare ribbons and footpoints. Using RHESSI and Hinode/XRT we test both non-thermal and thermal models for the HXR emission.
Results: During the flare impulsive phase, we find evidence from XRT for flare footpoints at temperatures exceeding 7 MK. We measure the electron number density increasing up to a few ×1010 cm-3 in the footpoints, at temperatures of ~1.5-2 MK, accompanied by small downflows at temperatures below Fe XIII and upflows of up to ~140 km s-1 at temperatures above. This is reasonable in the context of HXR diagnostics of the flare electron beam. The electrons inferred have sufficient energy to affect the chromospheric ionisation structure.
Conclusions: EIS sparse raster data coupled with RHESSI imaging and spectroscopy prove useful here in studying the lower atmosphere of solar flares, and in this event suggest heat deposition relatively high in the chromosphere drives chromospheric evaporation while increasing the observed electron densities at footpoints. However, from RHESSI spectral fitting it is not possible to say whether the data are more consistent with a model including a non-thermal beam, or purely thermal model.