EMERGING FLUX AND X-CLASS FLARES IN NOAA 6555

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Abstract

The active region NOAA 6555 had several locations of highly sheared magnetic field structure, yet, only one of them was the site for all the five X-class flares during its disk passage in March 1991. The pre-flare observations of high-resolution Hα filtergrams, vector magnetograms and Hβ Dopplergrams of the 2B/X5.3 flare on 25 March 1991 show that the flaring site was characterized by a new rising ‘emerging flux region’ (EFR) near the highly sheared magnetic field configuration. The polarity axis of the emerging flux was nearly perpendicular to the pre-existing magnetic neutral line. The location of the EFR was the site of initial brightening in Hα. The post-flare magnetograms show higher magnetic shear at the flare location compared to the post-flare magnetograms, which might indicate that the EFR was sheared at the time of its emergence. As the new EFR coincided with the occurrence of the flare, we suggest that it might have triggered the observed flare. Observations from Big Bear Solar Observatory and Marshall Space Flight Center also show that there was emergence of new flux at the same location prior to two other X-class flares. We find that out of five observed X-class flares in NOAA 6555, at least in three cases there are clear signatures of flare-related flux emergence. Therefore, it is concluded that EFRs might play an important role in destabilizing the observed sheared magnetic structures leading to large X-class flares of NOAA 6555.

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