Volume 601, May 2017
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||23 May 2017|
Vortex flows in the solar chromosphere
I. Automatic detection method
Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Oslo, PO Box 1029 Blindern, 0315, Oslo, Norway
e-mail: email@example.com ; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 17 November 2016
Accepted: 18 February 2017
Solar “magnetic tornadoes” are produced by rotating magnetic field structures that extend from the upper convection zone and the photosphere to the corona of the Sun. Recent studies show that these kinds of rotating features are an integral part of atmospheric dynamics and occur on a large range of spatial scales. A systematic statistical study of magnetic tornadoes is a necessary next step towards understanding their formation and their role in mass and energy transport in the solar atmosphere. For this purpose, we develop a new automatic detection method for chromospheric swirls, meaning the observable signature of solar tornadoes or, more generally, chromospheric vortex flows and rotating motions. Unlike existing studies that rely on visual inspections, our new method combines a line integral convolution (LIC) imaging technique and a scalar quantity that represents a vortex flow on a two-dimensional plane. We have tested two detection algorithms, based on the enhanced vorticity and vorticity strength quantities, by applying them to three-dimensional numerical simulations of the solar atmosphere with CO5BOLD. We conclude that the vorticity strength method is superior compared to the enhanced vorticity method in all aspects. Applying the method to a numerical simulation of the solar atmosphere reveals very abundant small-scale, short-lived chromospheric vortex flows that have not been found previously by visual inspection.
Key words: Sun: atmosphere / Sun: chromosphere / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO, 2017
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