EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 388, Number 3, June IV 2002
Page(s) 1036 - 1047
Section The Sun
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020500
Published online 10 June 2002

A&A 388, 1036-1047 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020500

On the intensity contrast of solar photospheric faculae and network elements

A. Ortiz1, S. K. Solanki2, V. Domingo1, 3, M. Fligge4 and B. Sanahuja1, 3

1  Departament d'Astronomia i Meteorologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Martí i Franquès 1, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
2  Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, Max-Planck-Str. 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
3  Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, Gran Capità 2-4, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
4  Institute of Astronomy, ETH-Zentrum, Scheuchzerstr. 7, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland

(Received 21 December 2001 / Accepted 28 March 2002)

Sunspots, faculae and the magnetic network contribute to solar irradiance variations. The contribution due to faculae and the network is of basic importance, but suffers from considerable uncertainty. We determine the contrasts of active region faculae and the network, both as a function of heliocentric angle and magnetogram signal. To achieve this, we analyze near-simultaneous full disk images of photospheric continuum intensity and line-of-sight magnetic field provided by the Michelson Doppler Interferometer (MDI) on board the SOHO spacecraft. Starting from the surface distribution of the solar magnetic field we first construct a mask, which is then used to determine the brightness of magnetic features, and the relatively field-free part of the photosphere separately. By sorting the magnetogram signal into different bins we are able to distinguish between the contrasts of different concentrations of magnetic field. We find that the center-to-limb variation (CLV) of the contrast changes strongly with magnetogram signal. Thus, the contrasts of active region faculae (large magnetogram signal) and the network (small signal) exhibit a very different CLV, showing that the populations of magnetic flux tubes that underly the two kinds of features are different. The results are compatible with, on average, larger flux tubes in faculae than in the network. This implies that these elements need to be treated separately when reconstructing variations of the total solar irradiance with high precision. We have obtained an analytical expression for the contrast of photospheric magnetic features as a function of both position on the disk and spatially averaged magnetic field strength, by performing a 2-dimensional fit to the observations. We also provide a linear relationship between magnetogram signal and the $\mu=\cos(\theta)$, where $\theta$ is the heliocentric angle, at which the contrast is maximal. Finally, we show that the maximum contrast per unit magnetic flux decreases rapidly with increasing magnetogram signal, supporting earlier evidence that the intrinsic contrast of magnetic flux tubes in the network is higher.

Key words: Sun: activity -- Sun: faculae, plages -- Sun: magnetic fields

Offprint request: A. Ortiz, aortiz@am.ub.es

© ESO 2002

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