The flaring and quiescent components of the solar corona

Argiroffi, C.
Peres, G.
Orlando, S.
Reale, F.
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The solar corona is a template to understand stellar activity. The Sun is a moderately active star, and its corona differs from active stars: active stellar coronae have a double-peaked EM(T) with the hot peak at 8-20 MK, while the non flaring solar corona has one peak at 1-2 MK. We study the average contribution of flares to the solar EM(T) to investigate indirectly the hypothesis that the hot peak of the EM(T) of active stellar coronae is due to a large number of unresolved solar-like flares, and to infer properties on the flare distribution from nano- to macro-flares. We measure the disk-integrated time-averaged emission measure, EM_F(T), of an unbiased sample of solar flares analyzing uninterrupted GOES/XRS light curves over time intervals of one month. We obtain the EM_Q(T) of quiescent corona for the same time intervals from the Yohkoh/SXT data. To investigate how EM_F(T) and EM_Q(T) vary with the solar cycle, we evaluate them at different phases of the cycle (from Dec. 1991 to Apr. 1998). Irrespective of the solar cycle phase, EM_F(T) appears like a peak of the distribution significantly larger than the values of EM_Q(T) for T~5-10 MK. As a result the time-averaged EM(T) of the whole solar corona is double-peaked, with the hot peak, due to time-averaged flares, located at temperature similar of that of active stars, but less enhanced. The EM_F(T) shape supports the hypothesis that the hot EM(T) peak of active coronae is due to unresolved solar-like flares. If this is the case, quiescent and flare components should follow different scaling laws for increasing stellar activity. In the assumption that the heating of the corona is entirely due to flares, from nano- to macro-flares, then either the flare distribution or the confined plasma response to flares, or both, are bimodal.
Comment: 8 pages, 7 postscript figures, accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics