University of Minnesota
Studying Small-Scale Energy Release in Solar Flares
While large, cataclysmic solar flares and eruptions tend to dominate our attention, there is a great deal to be learned from small, faint flares. Indeed, one of the benefits that comes from using the Sun as a case study for astrophysical processes is that relatively small, weakly energetic events can be well observed. In the past, determining how energy is released and particles are accelerated in solar flares has proved to be an elusive topic. Understanding these properties would elucidate how and when flares occur, how they relate to coronal mass ejections, the extent to which they heat the corona, and what connections they have with the rest of the heliosphere. Of particular interest is the energy carried by nonthermal electrons, and the mechanisms by which they attain those energies. One way to attach this topic is by studying how energy release properties scale across flare size, from the largest solar eruptions to the smallest micro- or nano-flares. The talk will show recent results from the smallest hard x-ray flares observed by the FOXSI rocket and NuSTAR spacecraft, in order to examine how these properties scale.