skip to main content


Title: A Possible Mechanism for the “Late Phase” in Stellar White-light Flares
Abstract

M dwarf flares observed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) sometimes exhibit apeak-bumplight-curve morphology, characterized by a secondary, gradual peak well after the main, impulsive peak. A similarlate phaseis frequently detected in solar flares observed in the extreme ultraviolet from longer hot coronal loops distinct from the impulsive flare structures. White-light emission has also been observed in off-limb solar flare loops. Here, we perform a suite of one-dimensional hydrodynamic loop simulations for M dwarf flares inspired by these solar examples. Our results suggest that coronal plasma condensation following impulsive flare heating can yield high electron number density in the loop, allowing it to contribute significantly to the optical light curves via free-bound and free–free emission mechanisms. Our simulation results qualitatively agree with TESS observations: the longer evolutionary timescale of coronal loops produces a distinct, secondary emission peak; its intensity increases with the injected flare energy. We argue that coronal plasma condensation is a possible mechanism for the TESS late-phase flares.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1848250
NSF-PAR ID:
10478176
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
959
Issue:
1
ISSN:
0004-637X
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: Article No. 54
Size(s):
Article No. 54
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Extreme-ultraviolet late phase (ELP) refers to the second extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) radiation enhancement observed in certain solar flares, which usually occurs tens of minutes to several hours after the peak of soft X-ray emission. The coronal loop system that hosts the ELP emission is often different from the main flaring arcade, and the enhanced EUV emission therein may imply an additional heating process. However, the origin of the ELP remains rather unclear. Here we present the analysis of a C1.4 flare that features such an ELP, which is also observed in microwave wavelengths by the Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array. Similar to the case of the ELP, we find a gradual microwave enhancement that occurs about 3 minutes after the main impulsive phase microwave peaks. Radio sources coincide with both foot points of the ELP loops and spectral fits on the time-varying microwave spectra demonstrate a clear deviation of the electron distribution from the Maxwellian case, which could result from injected nonthermal electrons or nonuniform heating to the footpoint plasma. We further point out that the delayed microwave enhancement suggests the presence of an additional heating process, which could be responsible for the evaporation of heated plasma that fills the ELP loops, producing the prolonged ELP emission. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Nonpotential magnetic energy promptly released in solar flares is converted to other forms of energy. This may include nonthermal energy of flare-accelerated particles, thermal energy of heated flaring plasma, and kinetic energy of eruptions, jets, upflows/downflows, and stochastic (turbulent) plasma motions. The processes or parameters governing partitioning of the released energy between these components are an open question. How these components are distributed between distinct flaring loops and what controls these spatial distributions are also unclear. Here, based on multiwavelength data and 3D modeling, we quantify the energy partitioning and spatial distribution in the well-observed SOL2014-02-16T064620 solar flare of class C1.5. Nonthermal emission of this flare displayed a simple impulsive single-spike light curve lasting about 20 s. In contrast, the thermal emission demonstrated at least three distinct heating episodes, only one of which was associated with the nonthermal component. The flare was accompanied by upflows and downflows and substantial turbulent velocities. The results of our analysis suggest that (i) the flare occurs in a multiloop system that included at least three distinct flux tubes; (ii) the released magnetic energy is divided unevenly between the thermal and nonthermal components in these loops; (iii) only one of these three flaring loops contains an energetically important amount of nonthermal electrons, while two other loops remain thermal; (iv) the amounts of direct plasma heating and that due to nonthermal electron loss are comparable; and (v) the kinetic energy in the flare footpoints constitutes only a minor fraction compared with the thermal and nonthermal energies. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    When and where the magnetic field energy is released and converted in eruptive solar flares remains an outstanding topic in solar physics. To shed light on this question, here we report multiwavelength observations of a C9.4-class eruptive limb flare that occurred on 2017 August 20. The flare, accompanied by a magnetic flux rope eruption and a white light coronal mass ejection, features three post-impulsive X-ray and microwave bursts immediately following its main impulsive phase. For each burst, both microwave and X-ray imaging suggest that the nonthermal electrons are located in the above-the-loop-top region. Interestingly, contrary to many other flares, the peak flux of the three post-impulsive microwave and X-ray bursts shows an increase for later bursts. Spectral analysis reveals that the sources have a hardening spectral index, suggesting a more efficient electron acceleration into the later post-impulsive bursts. We observe a positive correlation between the acceleration of the magnetic flux rope and the nonthermal energy release during the post-impulsive bursts in the same event. Intriguingly, different from some other eruptive events, this correlation does not hold for the main impulse phase of this event, which we interpret as energy release due to the tether-cutting reconnection before the primary flux rope acceleration occurs. In addition, using footpoint brightenings at conjugate flare ribbons, a weakening reconnection guide field is inferred, which may also contribute to the hardening of the nonthermal electrons during the post-impulsive phase.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The optical and near-ultraviolet (NUV) continuum radiation in M-dwarf flares is thought to be the impulsive response of the lower stellar atmosphere to magnetic energy release and electron acceleration at coronal altitudes. This radiation is sometimes interpreted as evidence of a thermal photospheric spectrum withT≈ 104K. However, calculations show that standard solar flare coronal electron beams lose their energy in a thick target of gas in the upper and middle chromosphere (log10column mass/[g cm−2] ≲ −3). At larger beam injection fluxes, electric fields and instabilities are expected to further inhibit propagation to low altitudes. We show that recent numerical solutions of the time-dependent equations governing the power-law electrons and background coronal plasma (Langmuir and ion-acoustic) waves from Kontar et al. produce order-of-magnitude larger heating rates than those that occur in the deep chromosphere through standard solar flare electron beam power-law distributions. We demonstrate that the redistribution of beam energy aboveE≳ 100 keV in this theory results in a local heating maximum that is similar to a radiative-hydrodynamic model with a large, low-energy cutoff and a hard power-law index. We use this semiempirical forward-modeling approach to produce opaque NUV and optical continua at gas temperaturesT≳ 12,000 K over the deep chromosphere with log10column mass/[g cm−2] of −1.2 to −2.3. These models explain the color temperatures and Balmer jump strengths in high-cadence M-dwarf flare observations, and they clarify the relation among atmospheric, radiation, and optical color temperatures in stellar flares.

     
    more » « less
  5. Aims.The aim of this work is to identify the mechanism driving pulsations in hard X-ray (HXR) and microwave emission during solar flares. Using combined HXR and microwave observations from Solar Orbiter/STIX and EOVSA, we investigate an X1.3 GOES class flare, 2022-03-30T17:21:00, which displays pulsations on timescales evolving from ∼7 s in the impulsive phase to ∼35 s later in the flare.

    Methods.We analysed the temporal, spatial, and spectral evolution of the HXR and microwave pulsations during the impulsive phase of the flare. We reconstructed images for individual peaks in the impulsive phase and performed spectral fitting at high cadence throughout the first phase of pulsations.

    Results.Our imaging analysis demonstrates that the HXR and microwave emission originates from multiple sites along the flare ribbons. The brightest sources and the location of the emission change in time. Through HXR spectral analysis, the electron spectral index is found to be anti-correlated with the HXR flux, showing a “soft-hard-soft” spectral index evolution for each pulsation. The timing of the associated filament eruption coincides with the early impulsive phase.

    Conclusions.Our results indicate that periodic acceleration and/or injection of electrons from multiple sites along the flare arcade is responsible for the pulsations observed in HXR and microwave emission. The evolution of pulsation timescales is likely a result of changes in the 3D magnetic field configuration over time related to the associated filament eruption.

     
    more » « less