' HEA/SSP: Solar REU
Solar REU Program:
 Title:Observational Signatures of Solar Flares

Type of Project: Data analysis

Skills/Interest Required: Interest in physics of solar X-ray emission and magnetic activity. Familiarity with computer programming would be useful but not strictly required.

Mentor: Dr. Paola Testa and Dr. Kathy Reeves

Email: ptesta_at_cfa.harvard.edu, kreeves_at_cfa.harvard.edu


The hot solar outer atmosphere, the corona, is characterized by dynamic events on a large range of spatial and temporal scales. Solar flares are the largest scale events, involving rapid evolution of the coronal plasma (over time scales from seconds up to hours) and large amounts of radiation emitted in the X-ray and EUV passbands. Despite the wealth of observations, the details of the physical mechanisms at work during flares are not well understood yet. This project is designed to derive a robust understanding of the observational signatures of flares in the X-ray/EUV bands as observed by the recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory. These observational constraints are fundamental to test flare models.


During the summer the student will analyze solar X-ray/EUV spectra and images obtained with the Extreme-ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) and the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). In particular, the student will select EVE and AIA observations of flares and she/he will study the observational signatures of flares vs. flare properties (e.g., flare class, morphology, time scales,..). The student might then compare the observed characteristics (e.g., intensity of X-ray/EUV emission in a line or passband and its temporal evolution; spatial distribution of flaring plasma and its evolution) with predictions of models of flaring loops.


Figure 1: Images of a solar flare taken by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Right: 304 Å. Left: 131 Å.


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