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Auroral ovals versus flare ribbons: Optical footprints of explosive magnetic field reconfiguration in Earth’s magnetosphere and the Sun’s corona

Presentation #305.02 in the session Explosive Energy Release Processes in the Solar Corona and Earth’s Magnetosphere II.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Auroral ovals versus flare ribbons: Optical footprints of explosive magnetic field reconfiguration in Earth’s magnetosphere and the Sun’s corona

Despite drastically different plasma conditions in the two systems, eruptive energy release events in solar active regions and in Earth’s magnetosphere have a lot in common. Both solar active region eruptions and the substorm activity in the nightside magnetosphere are known to be associated with an abrupt large-scale reorganization of the supporting magnetic systems enabling the conversion and dissipation of the stored free magnetic energy. The rate of energy accumulation in either system tends to be by orders of magnitude slower than the energy release rate, leading to the formation of an impulsive loading-unloading cycle involving a relatively long pre-reconnection phase (substorm growth phase, pre-flare stressing of an active region magnetic field), a short and explosive reconnection phase (substorm breakup and expansion, eruptive flares and CMEs), and a prolonged post-reconnection phase (substorm recovery phase and the post-flare active region reconfiguration). In Earth’s magnetosphere, this loading-unloading cycle is diagnosed by monitoring characteristic changes in the particle precipitation pattern in the northern and southern auroral ovals marking the boundary between the open and close magnetic flux. The position, shape, structure, and dynamics of the auroral borealis were shown to communicate critically important information about an upcoming substorm, the location and timing of the initial reconnection onset, and the subsequent return of the magnetosphere to a lower-energy state. On the Sun, a similar role is played by the chromospheric flare ribbons which enable a detailed diagnostics of the overlying reconnecting magnetic field. In this talk, we’ll discuss similarities and differences in using auroral and flare ribbon observations for monitoring eruptive energy release in respectively Earth’s magnetosphere and solar corona. Special emphasis will be placed on the quantitative interpretation of the two types of optical signatures for empirical diagnostics of the underlying reconnection activity and for constraining its theoretical models. We’ll also compare forecasting capabilities of the two types of optical signatures in the context of space weather prediction objectives.

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