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A characteristic magnetic field pattern associated with all major solar flares and its use in flare forecasting View all abstracts by submitter

Karel Schrijver   Submitted: 2007-01-05 15:29

Solar flares result from some electromagnetic instability that occurs within regions of relatively strong magnetic field in the Sun's atmosphere. The processes that enable and trigger these flares remain topics of intense study and debate. I analyze observations of 289 X- and M-class flares and over 2,500 active-region magnetograms to discover (1) that large flares, without exception, are associated with the rise from within the Sun of intense magnetic fibrils with pronounced high-gradient polarity separation lines, while (2) the free energy that emerges with these fibrils is converted into flare energy in a broad spectrum of flare magnitudes that may well be selected at random from a power-law distribution up to a maximum value. This maximum is proportional to the total unsigned flux R within ~15 Mm of strong-field, high-gradient polarity-separation lines which are a characteristic appearance of electrical currents emerging through the photosphere. Measurement of R is readily automated, and R can therefore be used effectively for flare forecasting. The probability for major flares to occur within 24 hr of the measurement of R approaches unity for active regions with the highest values of R around 2x1021 Mx. For regions with R<1019 Mx, no M- or X-class flares occur within a day.

Authors: Carolus J. Schrijver
Projects: TRACE

Publication Status: ApJL, in press
Last Modified: 2007-01-08 10:00
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