Context: The Sun is an active source of radio emission that is often associated with energetic phenomena ranging from nanoflares to coronal mass ejections (CMEs). At low radio frequencies (<100 MHz), numerous millisecond duration radio bursts have been reported, such as radio spikes or solar S bursts (where S stands for short). To date, these have neither been studied extensively nor imaged because of the instrumental limitations of previous radio telescopes. Aims: Here, LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) observations were used to study the spectral and spatial characteristics of a multitude of S bursts, as well as their origin and possible emission mechanisms. Methods: We used 170 simultaneous tied-array beams for spectroscopy and imaging of S bursts. Since S bursts have short timescales and fine frequency structures, high cadence (~50 ms) tied-array images were used instead of standard interferometric imaging, that is currently limited to one image per second. Results: On 9 July 2013, over 3000 S bursts were observed over a time period of ~8 h. S bursts were found to appear as groups of short-lived (<1 s) and narrow-bandwidth (~2.5 MHz) features, the majority drifting at ~3.5 MHz s-1 and a wide range of circular polarisation degrees (2−8 times more polarised than the accompanying Type III bursts). Extrapolation of the photospheric magnetic field using the potential field source surface (PFSS) model suggests that S bursts are associated with a trans-equatorial loop system that connects an active region in the southern hemisphere to a bipolar region of plage in the northern hemisphere. Conclusions: We have identified polarised, short-lived solar radio bursts that have never been imaged before. They are observed at a height and frequency range where plasma emission is the dominant emission mechanism, however, they possess some of the characteristics of electron-cyclotron maser emission.
- Sun: corona – Sun: radio radiation – Sun: particle emission – Sun: magnetic fields