Thermal Evolution of an Active Region Through Quiet and Flaring Phases as Observed by NuSTAR, XRT, and AIA

Jessie M Duncan, Reed B. Masek, Albert Y. Shih, Lindsay Glesener, Will Barnes, Katharine K. Reeves, Yixian Zhang, Iain G. Hannah, Brian W. Grefenstette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solar active regions (ARs) contain a broad range of temperatures, with the thermal plasma distribution often observed to peak in the few millions of kelvin. Differential emission measure (DEM) analysis can allow instruments with diverse temperature responses to be used in concert to estimate this distribution. Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray (NuSTAR) hard X-ray (HXR) observations are uniquely sensitive to the highest-temperature components of the corona, and thus extremely powerful for examining signatures of reconnection-driven heating. Here, we use NuSTAR diagnostics in combination with extreme-ultraviolet and soft X-ray observations (from the Solar Dynamics Observatory/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and Hinode/X-Ray Telescope) to construct DEMs over 170 distinct time intervals during a 5 hr observation of an alternately flaring and quiet active region (NOAA designation AR 12712). This represents the first HXR study to examine the time evolution of the distribution of thermal plasma in an AR. During microflares, we find that the initial microflare-associated plasma heating is predominantly heating of material that is already relatively hot, followed later on by broader heating of initially cooler material. During quiescent times, we show that the amount of extremely hot (>10 MK) material in this region is significantly (∼2-4 orders of magnitude) less than that found in the quiescent AR observed in HXRs by FOXSI-2. This result implies there can be radically different high-temperature thermal distributions in different ARs, and strongly motivates future HXR DEM studies covering a large number of these regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number197
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermal Evolution of an Active Region Through Quiet and Flaring Phases as Observed by NuSTAR, XRT, and AIA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this