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The RHESSI Microflare Height Distribution

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Abstract

We present the first in-depth statistical survey of flare source heights observed by RHESSI. Flares were found using a flare-finding algorithm designed to search the 6 – 10 keV count-rate when RHESSI’s full sensitivity was available in order to find the smallest events (Christe et al. in Astrophys. J. 677, 1385, 2008). Between March 2002 and March 2007, a total of 25 006 events were found. Source locations were determined in the 4 – 10 keV, 10 – 15 keV, and 15 – 30 keV energy ranges for each event. In order to extract the height distribution from the observed projected source positions, a forward-fit model was developed with an assumed source height distribution where height is measured from the photosphere. We find that the best flare height distribution is given by g(h)∝exp (−h/λ) where λ=6.1±0.3 Mm is the scale height. A power-law height distribution with a negative power-law index, γ=3.1±0.1 is also consistent with the data. Interpreted as thermal loop-top sources, these heights are compared to loops generated by a potential-field model (PFSS). The measured flare heights distribution are found to be much steeper than the potential-field loop height distribution, which may be a signature of the flare energization process.

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Correspondence to S. Christe.

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Christe, S., Krucker, S. & Saint-Hilaire, P. The RHESSI Microflare Height Distribution. Sol Phys 270, 493–502 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11207-011-9777-7

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Keywords

  • Solar Phys
  • Scale Height
  • Height Distribution
  • Magnetic Loop
  • Spin Axis