Thermal Structure and Dynamics in Supra-arcade Downflows and Flare Plasma Sheets

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 4:00 PM
Kathy Reeves1, Will Hanneman1,2, Michael Freed3 and David E McKenzie3, (1)Harvard-Smithsonain Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)The University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, (3)Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, United States
During a long duration solar flare, a hot plasma sheet is commonly formed above the flare loops. Often produced within this sheet are down-flowing voids referred to as supra-arcade downflows, thought to be the products of a patchy reconnection process. Models differ on the question of whether the downflows should be hotter than the surrounding plasma or not. We use imaging data from Hinode/XRT and SDO/AIA to determine the thermal structure of the plasma sheet and downflows. We find that the temperatures of the plasma within the downflows are either roughly the same as or lower than the surrounding fan plasma. This result implies that a mechanism for forming the voids that involves a sunward directed hydrodynamic shock pattern combined with perpendicular magnetic shock is unlikely. Additionally, we use the high cadence AIA data to trace the velocity fields in these regions through the use of a local correlation tracking algorithm. Through these measurements, we can determine areas of diverging velocity fields, as well as velocity shear fields and correlate them with temperature changes in order to understand the heating mechanisms in the plasma sheet.

This work is supported by under contract SP02H1701R from Lockheed-Martin to SAO, contract NNM07AB07C from NASA to SAO and NASA grant numbers NNX13AG54G and NNX14AD43G