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The nonpotentiality of coronae of solar active regions, the dynamics of the surface magnetic field, and the potential for large flares View all abstracts by submitter

Karel Schrijver   Submitted: 2016-02-26 08:52

Flares and eruptions from solar active regions are associated with atmospheric electrical currents accompanying distortions of the coronal field away from a lowest-energy potential state. In order to better understand the origin of these currents and their role in M- and X-class flares, I review all active-region observations made with SDO/HMI and SDO/AIA from 2010/05 through 2014/10 within approximately 40 degrees from disk center. I select the roughly 4% of all regions that display a distinctly nonpotential coronal configuration in loops with a length comparable to the scale of the active region, and all that emit GOES X-class flares. The data for 41 regions confirm, with a single exception, that strong-field, high-gradient polarity inversion lines (SHILs) created during emergence of magnetic flux into, and related displacement within, pre-existing active regions are associated with X-class flares. Obvious nonpotentiality in the active region-scale loops occurs in 6 of 10 selected regions with X-class flares, all with relatively long SHILs along their primary polarity inversion line, or with a long internal filament there. Nonpotentiality can exist in active regions well past the flux-emergence phase, often with reduced or absent flaring. I conclude that the dynamics of the flux involved in the compact SHILs is of preeminent importance for the large-flare potential of active regions within the next day, but that their associated currents may not reveal themselves in active region-scale nonpotentiality. In contrast, active region-scale nonpotentiality, which can persist for many days, may inform us about the eruption potential other than those from SHILs which is almost never associated with X-class flaring.

Authors: C.J. Schrijver
Projects: SDO-AIA,SDO-HMI

Publication Status: Astrophysical Journal, in press.
Last Modified: 2016-02-29 10:55
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