Presentation Open Access
Chen, B.; Jibben, P.
We investigate the release of magnetic energy stored within the solar atmosphere, the driving force and fundamental process behind solar flares. While it is widely accepted that the reconnection of magnetic field lines in the low solar corona powers solar flares, there is a dearth of direct information regarding the relative location of the magnetic energy release and the structure of the reconnecting magnetic fields. We utilize the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to observe decimetric type III radio bursts produced during the impulsive phase of a C7.2 solar flare. The VLA’s unique observing technique of radio dynamic imaging spectroscopy enables trajectories of flare-accelerated electron beams to be derived as a function of time. Since these electron beams propagate along magnetic field lines in the low solar corona, we can use this method to trace newly reconnected coronal magnetic field lines in or around the reconnection region. Supported by multi-passband extreme ultraviolet imaging data from the SDO/AIA, photospheric magnetic field measurements from the SDO/HMI, and hard X-ray imaging data from RHESSI, we find that the accelerated electron beams first appear in the region trailing an erupting sigmoid which triggers the flare in question. We find our results to be generally consistent with the standard model of eruptive solar flares, in which magnetic energy is released via reconnection of antiparallel magnetic field lines trailing behind an erupting flux rope.