Diffusive transport of energetic electrons in the solar corona: X-ray and radio diagnostics

S. Musset, E. P. Kontar, N. Vilmer

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19 Scopus citations


Context. Imaging spectroscopy in X-rays with RHESSI provides the possibility to investigate the spatial evolution of X-ray emitting electron distribution and therefore, to study transport effects on energetic electrons during solar flares. Aims. We study the energy dependence of the scattering mean free path of energetic electrons in the solar corona. Methods. We used imaging spectroscopy with RHESSI to study the evolution of energetic electrons distribution in various parts of the magnetic loop during the 2004 May 21 flare. We compared these observations with the radio observations of the gyrosynchrotron radiation of the same flare and with the predictions of a diffusive transport model. Results. X-ray analysis shows a trapping of energetic electrons in the corona and a spectral hardening of the energetic electron distribution between the top of the loop and the footpoints. Coronal trapping of electrons is stronger for radio-emitting electrons than for X-ray-emitting electrons. These observations can be explained by a diffusive transport model. Conclusions. We show that the combination of X-ray and radio diagnostics is a powerful tool to study electron transport in the solar corona in different energy domains. We show that the diffusive transport model can explain our observations, and in the range 25-500 keV, the scattering mean free path of electrons decreases with electron energy. We can estimate for the first time the scattering mean free path dependence on energy in the corona.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. We thank the RHESSI team for producing free access to data, Alexey Kuznetsov for his help with the radio data, and our referee for his useful comments. Sophie Musset acknowledges the CNES and the LABEX ESEP (N◦ 2011-LABX-030) for Ph.D. funding, and thanks the French State and the ANR for their support through the “Investissements d’avenir” program in the PSL∗ initiative (convention N◦ ANR-10-IDEX-0001–02), as well as the Programme National Soleil-Terre (PNST). EPK was supported by a STFC consolidated grant ST/L000741/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© ESO, 2018.


  • Sun: X-rays
  • Sun: corona
  • Sun: flares
  • Techniques: imaging spectroscopy
  • gamma rays


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