Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In this paper we discuss the initial phase of chromospheric evaporation during a solar flare observed with instruments on the Solar Maximum Mission on May 21, 1980 at 20:53 UT. Images of the flaring region taken with the Hard X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer in the energy bands from 3.5 to 8 keV and from 16 to 30 keV show that early in the event both the soft and hard X-ray emissions are localized near the footpoints, while they are weaker from the rest of the flaring loop system. This implies that there is no evidence for heating taking place at the top of the loops, but energy is deposited mainly at their base. The spectral analysis of the soft X-ray emission detected with the Bent Crystal Spectrometer evidences an initial phase of the flare, before the impulsive increase in hard X-ray emission, during which most of the thermal plasma at 107 K was moving toward the observer with a mean velocity of about 80 km s-1. At this time the plasma was highly turbulent. In a second phase, in coincidence with the impulsive rise in hard X-ray emission during the major burst, high-velocity (370 km s-1) upward motions were observed. At this time, soft X-rays were still predominantly emitted near the loop footpoints. The energy deposition in the chromosphere by electrons accelerated in the flare region to energies above 25 keV, at the onset of the high-velocity upflows, was of the order of 4 × 1010 erg s-1 cm-2. These observations provide further support for interpreting the plasma upflows as the mechanism responsible for the formation of the soft X-ray flare, identified with chromospheric evaporation. Early in the flare soft X-rays are mainly from evaporating material close to the footpoints, while the magnetically confined coronal region is at lower density. The site where upflows originate is identified with the base of the loop system. Moreover, we can conclude that evaporation occurred in two regimes: an initial slow evaporation, observed as a motion of most of the thermal plasma, followed by a high-speed evaporation lasting as long as the soft X-ray emission of the flare was increasing, that is as long as plasma accumulation was observed in corona.
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