This paper describes the development of X-ray diffractive optics for imaging solar flares with better than 0.1 arcsec angular resolution. X-ray images with this resolution of the ≥ 10 MK plasma in solar active regions and solar flares would allow the cross-sectional area of magnetic loops to be resolved and the coronal flare energy release region itself to be probed. The objective of this work is to obtain X-ray images in the iron-line complex at 6.7 keV observed during solar flares with an angular resolution as fine as 0.1 arcsec - over an order of magnitude finer than is now possible. This line emission is from highly ionized iron atoms, primarily Fe xxv, in the hottest flare plasma at temperatures in excess of ≈ 10 MK. It provides information on the flare morphology, the iron abundance, and the distribution of the hot plasma. Studying how this plasma is heated to such high temperatures in such short times during solar flares is of critical importance in understanding these powerful transient events, one of the major objectives of solar physics. We describe the design, fabrication, and testing of phase zone plate X-ray lenses with focal lengths of ≈ 100 m at these energies that would be capable of achieving these objectives. We show how such lenses could be included on a two-spacecraft formation-flying mission with the lenses on the spacecraft closest to the Sun and an X-ray imaging array on the second spacecraft in the focal plane ≈ 100 m away. High-resolution X-ray images could be obtained when the two spacecraft are aligned with the region of interest on the Sun. Requirements and constraints for the control of the two spacecraft are discussed together with the overall feasibility of such a formation-flying mission.
- Pub Date:
- August 2012
- Solar flares;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics