Featured Image: Solar Flares in Focus

Solar flares, like the one photographed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory and shown above, are flashes of solar radiation powered by magnetic reconnection. Many solar flares are accompanied by immense eruptions of magnetized plasma called coronal mass ejections. In a recent research article, Maria Kazachenko (University of Colorado Boulder and National Solar Observatory) explored why some solar flares, called eruptive flares, come with a coronal mass ejection, while others, called confined flares, do not. Kazachenko analyzed 480 solar flares, from middle-of-the-pack C-class flares to the most energetic X-class flares, cataloging the thermodynamic and magnetic properties of each flare and noting whether it was eruptive or confined. Confined flares tend to arise from active regions — areas of the solar surface with strong magnetic fields — that are larger and more strongly magnetic, and a smaller fraction of the active region’s magnetic field undergoes magnetic reconnection during a confined flare. For the first time, Kazachenko showed that magnetic reconnection happens more rapidly in confined flares than eruptive flares. To learn more about the properties of confined and eruptive flares, be sure to check out the full research article linked below


“A Database of Magnetic and Thermodynamic Properties of Confined and Eruptive Solar Flares,” Maria D. Kazachenko 2023 ApJ 958 104. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ad004e