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Direct Observation of Two-step Magnetic Reconnection in a Solar Flare  

Tingyu Gou   Submitted: 2017-08-11 07:13

We report observations of an eruptive X2.8 flare on 2013 May 13, which shows two distinct episodes of energy release in the impulsive phase. The first episode is characterized by the eruption of a magnetic flux rope, similar to the energy-release process in most standard eruptive flares. The second episode, which is stronger than the first normal one and shows enhanced high-energy X-ray and even γ-ray emissions, is closely associated with magnetic reconnection of a large-scale loop in the aftermath of the eruption. The reconnection inflow of the loop leg is observed in the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) 304 Å passband and accelerates toward the reconnection region to speeds as high as ∼130 km s-1. Simultaneously, the corresponding outflow jets are observed in the AIA hot passbands with speeds of ∼740 km s-1 and a mean temperature of ∼14 MK. RHESSI observations show a strong burst of hard X-ray (HXR) and γ-ray emissions with hard electron spectra of δ ≈ 3, exhibiting a soft"hard"harder behavior. A distinct altitude decrease of the HXR loop-top source coincides with the inward swing of the loop leg observed in the AIA 304 Å passband, which is suggested to be related to the coronal implosion. This fast inflow of magnetic flux contained in the loop leg greatly enhances the reconnection rate and results in very efficient particle acceleration in the second-step reconnection, which also helps to achieve a second higher temperature peak up to T ≈ 30 MK.

Authors: Tingyu Gou, Astrid M. Veronig, Ewan C. Dickson, Aaron Hernandez-Perez, Rui Liu

Publication Status: ApJL, 845: L1 (2017)
Last Modified: 2017-08-15 17:09
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Direct Observation of Two-step Magnetic Reconnection in a Solar Flare

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