Solar Physics

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 123–138 | Cite as

Observations of limb flares with a soft X-ray telescope

  • Edward G. Gibson


The structure and evolution of 26 limb flares have been observed with a soft X-ray telescope flown on Skylab. The results are:
  1. (1)

    One or more well defined loops were the only structures of flare intensity observed during the rise phase and near flare maximum, except for knots which were close to the resolution of the telescope in size (≈2 arc seconds) and whose structure can therefore not be determined.

  2. (2)

    The flare core features were always sharply defined during the rise phase.

  3. (3)

    For the twenty events which contain loops, the geometry of the structure near maximum was that of a loop in ten cases, a loop with a spike at the top in four cases, a cusp or triangle in four cases, and a cusp combined with a spike in another two cases.

  4. (4)

    Of the fifteen cases in which sufficient data were available to allow us to follow a flare's evolution, five showed no significant geometrical deviation from a loop structure, one displayed little change except for a small scale short-lived perturbation on one side of the loop 10 seconds before a type III radio burst was observed, eight underwent a large scale deformation of the loop or loops on a time scale comparable to that of the flare itself and one double loop event changed in a complex and undetermined manner, with reconnection being one possibility.


Based on observation of the original film, it is suggested that the eight flares which underwent large scale deformations had become unstable to MHD kinks. This implies that these flares occurred in magnetic flux tubes through which significant currents were flowing.

It is suggested that the high energy electrons responsible for type III bursts accompanying these flares could have been accelerated by the V x B electric field induced by a small scale short-lived perturbation of parts of a flaring flux tube, similar to the one perturbation which was observed having these characteristics.


Flare Magnetic Flux Flux Tube Significant Current Loop Structure 


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward G. Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Science Laboratory, Laboratory OperationsThe Aerospace CorporationEl SegundoUSA

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