Productivity of Solar Flares and Magnetic Helicity Injection in Active Regions

Research paper by Sung-Hong Park, Jongchul Chae, Haimin Wang

Indexed on: 22 Jun '10Published on: 22 Jun '10Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics


The main objective of this study is to better understand how magnetic helicity injection in an active region is related to the occurrence and intensity of solar flares. We therefore investigate magnetic helicity injection rate and unsigned magnetic flux, as a reference. In total, 378 active regions are analyzed using $SOHO$/MDI magnetograms. The 24-hour averaged helicity injection rate and unsigned magnetic flux are compared with the flare index and the flare-productive probability in next 24 hours following an measurement. In addition, we study the variation of helicity over a span of several days around the times of the 19 flares above M5.0 which occurred in selected strong flare-productive active regions. The major findings of this study are: (1) for a sub-sample of 91 large active regions with unsigned magnetic fluxes in the range from 3 to 5 $\times$ 10$^{22}$ Mx, there is a difference in magnetic helicity injection rate between flaring active regions and non-flaring active regions by a factor of 2; (2) the $GOES$ C-flare-productive probability as a function of helicity injection displays a sharp boundary between flare-productive active regions and flare-quiet ones; (3) the history of helicity injection before all the 19 major flares displayed a common characteristic: a significant helicity accumulation of (3-45)$ \times$ 10 $^{42}$ Mx$^2$ during a phase of monotonically increasing helicity over 0.5 to 2 days. Our results support the notion that helicity injection is important in flares, but it is not effective to use it alone for the purpose of flare forecast. It is necessary to find a way to better characterize the time history of helicity injection as well as its spatial distribution inside active regions.