Peripheral downflows in sunspot penumbrae⋆
1 Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max-Planck Straße 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
2 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, 446-701 Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea
Received: 9 January 2013
Accepted: 11 July 2013
Context. Sunspot penumbrae show high-velocity patches along the periphery.
Aims. The high-velocity downflow patches are believed to be the return channels of the Evershed flow. We aim to investigate their structure in detail using Hinode SOT/SP observations.
Methods. We employ Fourier interpolation in combination with spatially coupled height dependent LTE inversions of Stokes profiles to produce high-resolution, height-dependent maps of atmospheric parameters of these downflows and investigate their properties.
Results. High-speed downflows are observed over a wide range of viewing angles. They have supersonic line-of-sight velocities, some in excess of 20 km s-1, and very high magnetic field strengths, reaching values of over 7 kG. A relation between the downflow velocities and the magnetic field strength is found, in good agreement with MHD simulations.
Conclusions. The coupled inversion at high resolution allows for the accurate determination of small-scale structures. The recovered atmospheric structure indicates that regions with very high downflow velocities contain some of the strongest magnetic fields that have ever been measured on the Sun.
Key words: sunspots / Sun: photosphere / Sun: surface magnetism / techniques: imaging spectroscopy / methods: numerical / magnetic fields
Two movies are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2013