Solar REU Program:
 Title: Modeling Solar Flares

Type of Project: Numerical Modeling and Data analysis

Skills/Interest Required: A successful student will have an interest in the physics of solar phenomena, computer programming and satellite observations. Mathematica or IDL skills a plus.

Mentor: Dr. Henry (Trae) Winter and Dr. Kathy Reeves


Solar flares are some of the most spectacular events that take place on the Sun. Flares release large amounts of magnetic energy stored in the corona, and they are visible across the electromagnetic spectrum. They are thought to be driven by magnetic reconnection, a process in which the magnetic field is topologically reordered. The exact details of the energy release in flares remains elusive, however. Recent work suggests that the bright structures observed during flares consist of bundles of many finer structures [1,2], each with its own energization profile. This project is designed to help understand how the reconnection process energizes these fine structures to produce the observed flares.


During the summer the student will use a model developed by the mentors of the project to simulate observations of real flares. Observations will be taken from the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE), the X-Ray Telescope (XRT) on the Hinode satellite and possibly the Reuvan Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI). The student will set up numerical experiments based on observed parameters found in the solar flare data. Those model parameters which can not be directly observed will be varied until the output of the model matches the observed light curves.


Figure 1: Temperature (right) and density (left) from the multi-stranded flare model of Reeves et al [1].


[1] Warren, H. P. "Multithread Hydrodynamic Modeling of a Solar Flare," ApJ, 637, 2006
[2] Reeves, K. K., Warren, H.P. and Forbes, T.G. "Theoretical Predictions of X-Ray and Extreme-UV Flare Emissions Using a Loss-of-Equilibrium Model of Solar Eruptions", ApJ, 668, 2007


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