Brightness, distribution, and evolution of sunspot umbral dots
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung (MPS), Max-Planck-Str. 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany e-mail: [riethmueller;solanki;zakharov;gandorfer]@mps.mpg.de
Accepted: 15 October 2008
Context. Umbral Dots (UDs) are thought to be manifestations of magnetoconvection in sunspot umbrae. Recent advances in their theoretical description point to the need for a thorough study of their properties and evolution based on data with the highest currently achievable resolution.
Aims. Our UD analysis aims to provide parameters such as lifetimes, diameters, horizontal velocities, and peak intensities, as well as the evolution of selected parameters.
Methods. We present a 106-min TiO (705.7 nm) time series of high spatial and temporal resolution that contains thousands of UDs in the umbra of a mature sunspot in the active region NOAA 10667 at μ = 0.95. The data were acquired with the 1-m Swedish Solar Telescope (SST) on La Palma. With the help of a multilevel tracking (MLT) algorithm the sizes, brightnesses, and trajectories of 12 836 umbral dots were found and extensively analyzed. The MLT allows UDs with very low contrast to be reliably identified.
Results. Inside the umbra we determine a UD filling factor of 11%. The histogram of UD lifetimes is monotonic, i.e. a UD does not have a typical lifetime. Three quarters of the UDs lived for less than 150 s and showed no or little motion. The histogram of the UD diameters exhibits a maximum at 225 km, i.e. most of the UDs are spatially resolved. UDs display a typical horizontal velocity of 420 m s-1 and a typical peak intensity of 51% of the mean intensity of the quiet photosphere, making them on average 20% brighter than the local umbral background. Almost all mobile UDs (large birth-death distance) were born close to the umbra-penumbra boundary, move towards the umbral center, and are brighter than average. Notably bright and mobile UDs were also observed along a prominent UD chain, both ends of which are located at the umbra-penumbra boundary. Their motion started primarily at either of the ends of the chain, continued along the chain, and ended near the chain's center. We observed the splitting and merging of UDs and the temporal succession of both. For the first time the evolution of brightness, size, and horizontal speed of a typical UD could be determined in a statistically significant way. Considerable differences between the evolution of central and peripheral UDs are found, which point to a difference in origin.
Key words: Sun: photosphere / Sun: sunspots / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2008