Turbulent Kinetic Energy in the Energy Balance of a Solar Flare

E. P. Kontar, J. E. Perez, L. K. Harra, A. A. Kuznetsov, A. G. Emslie, N. L.S. Jeffrey, N. H. Bian, B. R. Dennis

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43 Citations (Scopus)
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The energy released in solar flares derives from a reconfiguration of magnetic fields to a lower energy state, and is manifested in several forms, including bulk kinetic energy of the coronal mass ejection, acceleration of electrons and ions, and enhanced thermal energy that is ultimately radiated away across the electromagnetic spectrum from optical to x rays. Using an unprecedented set of coordinated observations, from a suite of instruments, we here report on a hitherto largely overlooked energy component - the kinetic energy associated with small-scale turbulent mass motions. We show that the spatial location of, and timing of the peak in, turbulent kinetic energy together provide persuasive evidence that turbulent energy may play a key role in the transfer of energy in solar flares. Although the kinetic energy of turbulent motions accounts, at any given time, for only ∼(0.5-1)% of the energy released, its relatively rapid (∼1-10 s) energization and dissipation causes the associated throughput of energy (i.e., power) to rival that of major components of the released energy in solar flares, and thus presumably in other astrophysical acceleration sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number155101
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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