Correlated Spatiotemporal Evolution of Extreme-Ultraviolet Ribbons and Hard X-rays in a Solar Flare

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Stephen J. Naus, Jiong Qiu, C. Richard DeVore, Spiro K. Antiochos, Joel T. Dahlin, James F. Drake, Marc Swisdak, Vadim M. Uritsky

We analyze the structure and evolution of ribbons from the M7.3 SOL2014-04-18T13 flare using ultraviolet (UV) images from IRIS and SDO/AIA, magnetic data from SDO/HMI, hard X-ray (HXR) images from RHESSI, and light curves from Fermi/GBM, in order to infer properties of coronal magnetic reconnection. As the event progresses, two flare ribbons spread away from the magnetic polarity inversion line. The width of the newly brightened front along the extension of the ribbon is highly intermittent in both space and time, presumably reflecting non-uniformities in the structure and/or dynamics of the flare current sheet. Furthermore, the ribbon width grows most rapidly in regions exhibiting concentrated non-thermal HXR emission, with sharp increases slightly preceding the HXR bursts. The light curve of the ultraviolet emission matches the HXR light curve at photon energies above 25 keV. In other regions the ribbon-width evolution and light curves do not temporally correlate with the HXR emission. This indicates that the production of non-thermal electrons is highly non-uniform within the flare current sheet. Our results suggest a strong connection between the production of non-thermal electrons and the locally enhanced perpendicular extent of flare ribbon fronts, which in turn reflects inhomogeneous structure and/or reconnection dynamics of the current sheet. Despite this variability, the ribbon fronts remain nearly continuous, quasi-one-dimensional features. Thus, although the reconnecting coronal current sheets are highly structured, they remain quasi-two-dimensional and the magnetic energy release occurs systematically, rather than stochastically, through the volume of reconnecting magnetic flux.

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