Measuring the Wilson depression of sunspots using the divergence-free condition of the magnetic field vector
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Gyeonggi, 446-701 Republic of Korea
Accepted: 20 August 2018
Context. The Wilson depression is the difference in geometric height of unit continuum optical depth between the sunspot umbra and the quiet Sun. Measuring the Wilson depression is important for understanding the geometry of sunspots. Current methods suffer from systematic effects or need to make assumptions on the geometry of the magnetic field. This leads to large systematic uncertainties of the derived Wilson depressions.
Aims. We aim to develop a robust method for deriving the Wilson depression that only requires the information about the magnetic field that is accessible from spectropolarimetry, and that does not rely on assumptions on the geometry of sunspots or on their magnetic field.
Methods. Our method is based on minimizing the divergence of the magnetic field vector derived from spectropolarimetric observations. We have focused on large spatial scales only in order to reduce the number of free parameters.
Results. We tested the performance of our method using synthetic Hinode data derived from two sunspot simulations. We find that the maximum and the umbral averaged Wilson depression for both spots determined with our method typically lies within 100 km of the true value obtained from the simulations. In addition, we applied the method to Hinode observations of a sunspot. The derived Wilson depression (∼600 km) is consistent with results typically obtained from the Wilson effect. We also find that the Wilson depression obtained from using horizontal force balance gives 110–180 km smaller Wilson depressions than both, what we find and what we deduce directly from the simulations. This suggests that the magnetic pressure and the magnetic curvature force contribute to the Wilson depression by a similar amount.
Key words: Sun: photosphere / sunspots / Sun: magnetic fields
© ESO 2018