Three-dimensional structure of a sunspot light bridge⋆
1 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38205 C/ Vía Láctea, s/n, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
2 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
4 Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik, Schöneckstr. 6, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
5 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
6 Institute for Solar Physics, Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, AlbaNova University Centre, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
7 Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
8 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Apdo. 3040, 18080 Granada, Spain
9 National Solar Observatory, 3010 Coronal Loop Sunspot, NM 88349, USA
10 Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, Fričcova 298, 25165 Ondřejov, Czech Republic
11 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Gyeonggi Do, 446-701, Republic of Korea
Received: 25 August 2016
Accepted: 9 November 2016
Context. Active regions are the most prominent manifestations of solar magnetic fields; their generation and dissipation are fundamental problems in solar physics. Light bridges are commonly present during sunspot decay, but a comprehensive picture of their role in the removal of the photospheric magnetic field is still lacking.
Aims. We study the three-dimensional configuration of a sunspot, and in particular, its light bridge, during one of the last stages of its decay.
Methods. We present the magnetic and thermodynamical stratification inferred from full Stokes inversions of the photospheric Si i 10 827 Å and Ca i 10 839 Å lines obtained with the GREGOR Infrared Spectrograph of the GREGOR telescope at the Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife, Spain. The analysis is complemented by a study of continuum images covering the disk passage of the active region, which are provided by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on board the Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Results. The sunspot shows a light bridge with penumbral continuum intensity that separates the central umbra from a smaller umbra. We find that in this region the magnetic field lines form a canopy with lower magnetic field strength in the inner part. The photospheric light bridge is dominated by gas pressure (high-β), as opposed to the surrounding umbra, where the magnetic pressure is higher. A convective flow is observed in the light bridge. This flow is able to bend the magnetic field lines and to produce field reversals. The field lines merge above the light bridge and become as vertical and strong as in the surrounding umbra. We conclude that this occurs because two highly magnetized regions approach each other during the sunspot evolution.
Key words: Sun: photosphere / Sun: magnetic fields / sunspots / methods: data analysis / methods: observational / Sun: activity
Movies associated to Figs. 2 and 13 are available at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2016