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He I D3 observations of the 1984 May 22 M6.3 solar flare

The He I D3 line has a unique response to a flare impact on the low solar atmosphere and can be a powerful diagnostic tool for energy transport processes. Using images obtained from the recently digitized films of the Big Bear Solar Observatory, we report D3 observations of the M6.3 flare on 1984 May 22, which occurred in an active region with a circular magnetic polarity inversion line (PIL). The impulsive phase of the flare starts with a main elongated source that darkens in D3, inside of which bright emission kernels appear at the time of the initial small peak in hard X-rays (HXRs). These flare cores subsequently evolve into a sharp emission strand lying within the dark halo; this evolution occurs at the same time as the main peak in HXRs, reversing the overall source contrast from -5% to 5%. The radiated energy in D3 during the main peak is estimated to be about 10^30 erg, which is comparable to that carried by nonthermal electrons above 20 keV. Afterward, the flare proceeds along the circular PIL in the counterclockwise direction to form a dark circular ribbon in D3, which apparently mirrors the bright ribbons in Ha and He I 10830 A. All of these ribbons last for over one hour in the late gradual phase.We suggest that the present event resembles the so-called black-light flare that was proposed based on continuum images, and that D3 darkening and brightening features herein may be due to thermal conduction heating and the direct precipitation of high-energy electrons, respectively.

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