We report observations of white-light ejecta in the low corona, for two X-class flares on 2013 May 13, using data from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. At least two distinct kinds of sources appeared (chromospheric and coronal), in the early and later phases of flare development, in addition to the white-light footpoint sources commonly observed in the lower atmosphere. The gradual emissions have a clear identification with the classical loop-prominence system, but are brighter than expected and possibly seen here in the continuum rather than line emission. We find the HMI flux exceeds the radio/X-ray interpolation of the bremsstrahlung produced in the flare soft X-ray sources by at least one order of magnitude. This implies the participation of cooler sources that can produce free-bound continua and possibly line emission detectable by HMI. One of the early sources dynamically resembles "coronal rain", appearing at a maximum apparent height and moving toward the photosphere at an apparent constant projected speed of 134 ± 8 km s-1. Not much literature exists on the detection of optical continuum sources above the limb of the Sun by non-coronagraphic instruments and these observations have potential implications for our basic understanding of flare development, since visible observations can in principle provide high spatial and temporal resolution.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- January 2014
- Sun: flares;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- 10 pages, 5 figures, Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters