Spectral variability of photospheric radiation due to faculae
I. The Sun and Sun-like stars
1 Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
2 Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yougin, 446-701, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea
Received: 11 October 2016
Accepted: 2 May 2017
Context. Stellar spectral variability on timescales of a day and longer, arising from magnetic surface features such as dark spots and bright faculae, is an important noise source when characterising extra-solar planets. Current 1D models of faculae do not capture the geometric properties and fail to reproduce observed solar facular contrasts. Magnetoconvection simulations provide facular contrasts accounting for geometry.
Aims. We calculate facular contrast spectra from magnetoconvection models of the solar photosphere with a view to improve (a) future parameter determinations for planets with early G type host stars and (b) reconstructions of solar spectral variability.
Methods. Regions of a solar twin (G2, log g = 4.44) atmosphere with a range of initial average vertical magnetic fields (100 to 500 G) were simulated using a 3D radiation-magnetohydrodynamics code, MURaM, and synthetic intensity spectra were calculated from the ultraviolet (149.5 nm) to the far infrared (160 000 nm) with the ATLAS9 radiative transfer code. Nine viewing angles were investigated to account for facular positions across most of the stellar disc.
Results. Contrasts of the radiation from simulation boxes with different levels of magnetic flux relative to an atmosphere with no magnetic field are a complicated function of position, wavelength and magnetic field strength that is not reproduced by 1D facular models. Generally, contrasts increase towards the limb, but at UV wavelengths a saturation and decrease are observed close to the limb. Contrasts also increase strongly from the visible to the UV; there is a rich spectral dependence, with marked peaks in molecular bands and strong spectral lines. At disc centre, a complex relationship with magnetic field was found and areas of strong magnetic field can appear either dark or bright, depending on wavelength. Spectra calculated for a wide variety of magnetic fluxes will also serve to improve total and spectral solar irradiance reconstructions.
Key words: stars: solar-type / stars: atmospheres / stars: activity / Sun: activity / Sun: faculae, plages
© ESO, 2017