Vortices in simulations of solar surface convection⋆
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung,
Received: 8 June 2011
Accepted: 28 July 2011
We report on the occurrence of small-scale vortices in simulations of the convective solar surface. Using an eigenanalysis of the velocity gradient tensor, we find the subset of high-vorticity regions in which the plasma is swirling. The swirling regions form an unsteady, tangled network of filaments in the turbulent downflow lanes. Near-surface vertical vortices are underdense and cause a local depression of the optical surface. They are potentially observable as bright points in the dark intergranular lanes. Vortex features typically exist for a few minutes, during which they are moved and twisted by the motion of the ambient plasma. The bigger vortices found in the simulations are possibly, but not necessarily, related to observations of granular-scale spiraling pathlines in “cork animations” or feature tracking.
Key words: magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / Sun: photosphere / Sun: granulation
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© ESO, 2011