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He i 10830 Å Dimming during Solar Flares. I. The Crucial Role of Nonthermal Collisional Ionizations

Graham S. Kerr, Yan Xu, , , , Nengyi Huang,

Abstract: While solar flares are predominantly characterized by an intense broadband enhancement to the solar radiative output, certain spectral lines and continua will, in theory, exhibit flare-induced dimmings. Observations of transitions of orthohelium He i λλ 10830 Å and the He i D3 lines have shown evidence of such dimming, usually followed by enhanced emission. It has been suggested that nonthermal collisional ionization of helium by an electron beam, followed by recombinations to orthohelium, is responsible for overpopulating those levels, leading to stronger absorption. However, it has not been possible observationally to preclude the possibility of overpopulating orthohelium via enhanced photoionization of He i by EUV irradiance from the flaring corona followed by recombinations. Here we present radiation hydrodynamics simulations of nonthermal electron-beam-driven flares where (1) both nonthermal collisional ionization of helium and coronal irradiance are included, and (2) only coronal irradiance is included. A grid of simulations covering a range of total energies deposited by the electron beam and a range of nonthermal electron-beam low-energy cutoff values were simulated. In order to obtain flare-induced dimming of the He i 10830 Å line, it was necessary for nonthermal collisional ionization to be present. The effect was more prominent in flares with larger low-energy cutoff values and longer lived in weaker flares and flares with a more gradual energy deposition timescale. These results demonstrate the usefulness of orthohelium line emission as a diagnostic of flare energy transport.
Keywords: flares / dimming / nonthermal collisional ionization / solar
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