Magnetohydrodynamic plasma turbulence is believed to play a vital role in the production of energetic electrons during solar flares, and the nonthermal broadening of spectral lines is a key sign of this turbulence. Here, we determine how flare turbulence evolves in time and space using spectral profiles of Fe XXIV, Fe XXIII, and Fe XVI, observed by the Hinode/EUV Imaging Spectrometer. Maps of nonthermal velocity are created for times covering the X-ray rise, peak, and decay. For the first time, the creation of kinetic energy density maps reveal where energy is available for energization, suggesting that similar levels of energy may be available to heat and/or accelerate electrons in large regions of the flare. We find that turbulence is distributed throughout the entire flare, often greatest in the coronal loop tops, and decaying at different rates at different locations. For hotter ions (Fe XXIV and Fe XXIII), the nonthermal velocity decreases as the flare evolves and during/after the X-ray peak shows a clear spatial variation decreasing linearly from the loop apex toward the ribbon. For the cooler ion (Fe XVI), the nonthermal velocity remains relativity constant throughout the flare, but steeply increases in one region corresponding to the southern ribbon, peaking just prior to the peak in hard X-rays before declining. The results suggest turbulence has a more complex temporal and spatial structure than previously assumed, while newly introduced turbulent kinetic energy maps show the availability of the energy and identify important spatial inhomogeneities in the macroscopic plasma motions leading to turbulence.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- December 2021
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication to Astrophysical Journal (October 1st 2021). Some figures may appear blurry in some pdf viewers, such as Preview. Please view pdf using Adobe