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Title:
Energy Release and Dissipation during Giant Solar Flares
Authors:
Kane, S. R.; Hurley, K.; McTiernan, J. M.; Sommer, M.; Boer, M.; Niel, M.
Affiliation:
AA(Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, USA), AB(Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, USA), AC(Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, USA), AD(Max-Planck-Institut fur Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, Germany), AE(Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements, CEDEX 4, F-31028 Toulouse, France), AF(Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements, CEDEX 4, F-31028 Toulouse, France)
Publication:
Astrophysical Journal Letters v.446, p.L47 (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
06/1995
Origin:
APJ; KNUDSEN
Astronomy Keywords:
SUN: FLARES, SUN: X-RAYS, GAMMA RAYS, ACCELERATION OF PARTICLES
DOI:
10.1086/187927
Bibliographic Code:
1995ApJ...446L..47K

Abstract

The Solar X-Ray/Cosmic Gamma-Ray Burst Experiment aboard Ulysses has observed 11 solar hard X-ray flares with effective peak counting rates greater than 4 × 105 counts s-1. We have estimated the energy dissipated during these "giant" flares (GOES class > X12). The flare on 1991 June 1, probably the largest flare of the present solar activity cycle (cycle 22), may represent energy dissipation by greater than 20 keV electrons at a rate of ˜1032 ergs s-1, a rate of energy release ˜1000 times larger than that in the well-studied flares in 1972 August. The total energy released during the flare would then have been ˜1034 ergs carried by ˜1041 electrons with energies above 20 keV, assuming a nonthermal interpretation, or ≲ 2 × 1033 ergs assuming a thermal interpretation. The energy release rate in the other giant flares could have been 1030-1031 ergs s-1. The resources of an active region seem to be inadequate for the production of these energies. It is suggested that the instability that triggers the energy release during a solar flare may affect the corona globally (rather than only locally). Although our energy estimates are subject to large uncertainties, they may be confirmed by future Ulysses observations.

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