EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 393, Number 1, October I 2002
Page(s) 305 - 319
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020990

A&A 393, 305-319 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020990

Spectral signature of magnetic flux tubes in sunspot penumbrae

D. A. N. Müller, R. Schlichenmaier, O. Steiner and M. Stix

Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Schöneckstr. 6, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
    e-mail: schliche,steiner,stix@kis.uni-freiburg.de

(Received 21 May 2002 / Accepted 2 July 2002)

We study the polarization of spectral lines in the penumbra by integrating the radiative transfer equation of polarized light for a three-dimensional model atmosphere of a sunspot. In this model, the Evershed flow is confined to magnetic flux tubes which are embedded in a static background atmosphere, in accordance with the moving tube model of Schlichenmaier et al. (1998a,b). The gradients and/or discontinuities in the fluid velocity and the magnetic field at the flux tube boundaries give rise to asymmetric Stokes profiles. We concentrate on the Stokes- V profiles and study the net circular polarization (NCP) of two photospheric spectral lines of neutral iron, Fe I 630.25 nm and Fe I 1564.8 nm. The different behavior of these two lines, which are exemplary for atomic spectral lines with a large Landé factor and significantly different wavelength, is based on the difference in excitation potential of the corresponding atomic transitions and the fact that the wavelength dependence of the Doppler shift is linear, while that of the Zeeman splitting is quadratic. We find that the azimuthal variation of the NCP, ${\cal N}(\psi)$, is a predominantly antisymmetric function of $\psi$ with respect to the line connecting disk center and spot center (line-of-symmetry) for the infrared line of Fe I 1564.8 nm, while the variation is predominantly symmetric for Fe I 630.25 nm. We show that the antisymmetric variation is caused by anomalous dispersion (Faraday pulsation) and the discontinuity in the azimuthal angle of the magnetic field, which is due to the relative inclination between flux tube and background field. We then compute synthetic NCP maps of a sunspot and compare them with observational results. Finally, the center-to-limb variation of the NCP, ${\cal N}(\theta)$, of these spectral lines is investigated. We show that the location of the zero-crossing point of ${\cal N}(\theta)$ on the center side of the line-of-symmetry represents a diagnostic tool to determine the inclination angle of the Evershed flow: A vanishing NCP on the center-side of the line-of-symmetry is an indirect evidence of downflows in the penumbra.

Key words: sunspots -- Sun: magnetic fields -- Sun: photosphere -- techniques: polarimetric -- techniques: spectroscopic -- line: profiles

Offprint request: D. A. N. Müller, dmueller@kis.uni-freiburg.de

© ESO 2002