Solar REU Program:
 Title: Thermal Energy Content of Solar Flares

Type of Project: Data analysis

Skills/Interest Required: Interest in the analysis of space-based and ground-based solar observations. No advanced programming skills required.

Mentor: 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. Current sheets are often formed above the flare loops, and supra-arcade plasma can often be seen in this region.


In this project, the student will use data from the Solar Dynamics Obsrvatory (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly telescope, the X-ray Telescope on the Hinode satellite to determine the spatial distribution of hot plasma in the supra-arcade region, and the thermal energy content in the supra-arcade plasma. Comparisons will be made to the GOES flare class, and the RHESSI data, where it exists.


The above image shows some of the supra-arcade plasma in a flare observed on Nov 5, 2010 [1]. The plasma is visible in the SDO/AIA 93 A and 131 A channels, which image 6 and 10 million degree plasma, respectively.


[1] Reeves, K. & Golub, L., "Atmospheric Imaging Assembly Observations of Hot Flare Plasma," Astrophysical Journal Letters, 727, L52, 2011


Section Photo