A CURRENT RIBBON MODEL FOR ENERGY STORAGE AND RELEASE WITH APPLICATION TO THE FLARE OF 7 JANUARY 1992


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Abstract

Observations of the flare on 7 January 1992 are interpreted using a topological model of the magnetic field. The model, developed here, applies a theory of three-dimensional reconnection to the inferred magnetic field configuration for 7 January. In the model field a new bipole (∼ 1021 Mx) emerges amidst pre-existing active region flux. This emergence gives rise to two current ribbons along the boundaries (separators) separating the distinct, new and old, flux systems. Sudden reconnection across these boundary curves transfers ∼ 3 ×1020 Mx of flux from the bipole into the surrounding flux. The model also predicts the simultaneous (sympathetic) flaring of the two current ribbons. This explains the complex two-loop structure noted in previous observations of this flare. We subject the model predictions to comparisons with observations of the flare. The locations of current ribbons in the model correspond closely with those of observed soft X-ray loops. In addition the footpoints and apexes of the ribbons correspond with observed sources of microwave and hard X-ray emission. The magnitude of energy stored by the current ribbons compares favorably to the inferred energy content of accelerated electrons in the flare.

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