EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 506, Number 3, November II 2009
Page(s) 1429 - 1436
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912044
Published online 27 August 2009
A&A 506, 1429-1436 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912044

Magnetic evolution of superactive regions

Complexity and potentially unstable magnetic discontinuities
S. Criscuoli1, P. Romano2, F. Giorgi1, and F. Zuccarello3

1  INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via Frascati 33, 00040 Monte Porzio Catone, Italy
    e-mail: criscuoli@oaroma.inaf.it
2  INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy
3  Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia – Sezione Astrofisica, Universitá di Catania, via S. Sofia 78, 95123 Catania, Italy

Received 12 March 2009 / Accepted 23 July 2009

Context. It is widely accepted that solar flares are manifestations of magnetic reconnection events taking place in the solar atmosphere. Several aspects of these events remain unclear, although many efforts have been devoted to the investigation of magnetic field configurations at flare occurrence sites.
Aims. In this work, we have studied the temporal evolution of some properties of a sample of superactive regions with the aim to single out the most significant for flare activity forecasting.
Methods. We have investigated properties of 14 superactive regions, observed between January 1st 2000 and December 31st 2006 with MDI/SOHO instrument and characterized by a particularly intense flare activity during their passage on the solar disk. We have analyzed the temporal evolution of fractal and multifractal properties of photospheric magnetic fields, namely the generalized fractal dimension and the contribution and dimensional diversities, which describe geometrical properties of the magnetic field, as well as the potential unstable volumes of magnetic discontinuities above the studied ARs, which may provide information about the magnetic field configuration in upper layers of the atmosphere. Correlations of these quantities with the flare index, which provides information about the flare activity of a region, have also been estimated.
Results. We found that in 50% of our sample the generalized fractal dimension is correlated with the flare index computed over windows of 50 h, while the contribution diversity and the dimensional diversity are anticorrelated with the same index. A clear increase of the potential unstable volume of magnetic discontinuities in the corona is observed before the phases characterized by more frequent and intense flares. We also found that the free energy distribution functions of unstable volumes of the analyzed superactive regions can be fitted with straight lines whose slope is larger than the values found in previous works for less active magnetic regions.
Conclusions. The generalized fractal dimension and the potential unstable volume of magnetic discontinuities are the most suitable for statistical investigations of relations with flare activity over longer (50 h) and shorter (few hours) time intervals, respectively.

Key words: Sun: activity -- Sun: magnetic fields -- Sun: flares

© ESO 2009