FOXSI-2 Solar Microflares. II. Hard X-ray Imaging Spectroscopy and Flare Energetics

Juliana T. Vievering, Lindsay Glesener, Subramania Athiray Panchapakesan, Juan Camilo Buitrago-Casas, Sophie Musset, Daniel F. Ryan, Shin Nosuke Ishikawa, Jessie Duncan, Steven Christe, S. m. Krucker

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9 Scopus citations


We study the nature of energy release and transfer for two sub-A class solar microflares observed during the second Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager (FOXSI-2) sounding rocket flight on 2014 December 11. FOXSI is the first solar-dedicated instrument to utilize focusing optics to image the Sun in the hard X-ray (HXR) regime, sensitive to energies of 4-20 keV. Through spectral analysis of the microflares using an optically thin isothermal plasma model, we find evidence for plasma heated to ∼10 MK and emission measures down to ∼1044 cm-3. Though nonthermal emission was not detected for the FOXSI-2 microflares, a study of the parameter space for possible hidden nonthermal components shows that there could be enough energy in nonthermal electrons to account for the thermal energy in microflare 1, indicating that this flare is plausibly consistent with the standard thick-target model. With a solar-optimized design and improvements in HXR focusing optics, FOXSI-2 offers approximately five times greater sensitivity at 10 keV than the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array for typical microflare observations and allows for the first direct imaging spectroscopy of solar HXRs with an angular resolution at scales relevant for microflares. Harnessing these improved capabilities to study small-scale events, we find evidence for spatial and temporal complexity during a sub-A class flare. This analysis, combined with contemporaneous observations by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory, indicates that these microflares are more similar to large flares in their evolution than to the single burst of energy expected for a nanoflare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2021

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