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A Unique Resource for Solar Flare Diagnostic Studies: the SMM Bent Crystal Spectrometer View all abstracts by submitter

Kenneth Phillips   Submitted: 2020-05-11 06:26

The Bent Crystal Spectrometer (BCS) on the NASA Solar Maximum Mission spacecraft observed the X-ray spectra of numerous solar flares during the periods 1980 February to November and 1984-1989. The instrument, the first of its kind to use curved crystal technology, observed the resonance lines of He-like Ca (caxix) and Fe (fexxv) and neighboring satellite lines, allowing the study of the rapid evolution of flare plasma temperature, turbulence, mass motions etc. To date there has not been a solar X-ray spectrometer with comparable spectral and time resolution, while subsequent solar cycles have delivered far fewer and less intense flares. The BCS data archive thus offers an unparalleled resource for flare studies. A recent re-assessment of the BCS calibration and its operations is extended here by using data during a spacecraft scan in the course of a flare on 1980 November 6 that highlights small deformations in the crystal curvature of the important channel~1 (viewing lines of Ca XIX and satellites). The results explain long-standing anomalies in spectral line ratios which have been widely discussed in the past. We also provide an in-flight estimation of the BCS collimator field of view which improves the absolute intensity calibration of the BCS. The BCS channel~1 background is shown to be entirely due to solar continuum radiation, confirming earlier analyses implying a time-variable flare abundance of Ca. We suggest that BCS high-resolution Ca XIX and Fe XXV line spectra be used as templates for the analysis of X-ray spectra of non-solar sources.

Authors: J. Sylwester, B. Sylwester, K. J. H. Phillips, A. Kepa, C. G. Rapley
Projects: Solar Max Misson

Publication Status: The Astrophysical Journal, to be published (May 2020)
Last Modified: 2020-05-11 15:28
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