Hinode Solar Optical Telescope update (solar flares)

23 May 2010

At www.physorg.com/print193597764.html we are informed Hinode has identified the origin of white light emissions in solar flares. The source of the  white light had not been clarified since it was discovered in the 19th century. A solar flare is the most energy intensive explosion to be observed within the confines of the solar system and different ways of studying them have been used - from X-rays, radion and  chromospheric spectral lines. These are usually recognised as a result of brightening in the visible light spectrum - and are thus known as white light flares. Hinode indicates that highly accelerated electrons are responsible for producing white light emissions. However, particle acceleration is one of the mysteries surrounding solar flares and it is hoped Hinode will allow physicists to observe solar flares more closely (see also The Astrophysical Journal number 715).