Volume 624, April 2019
|Number of page(s)||18|
|Published online||25 April 2019|
Intensity contrast of solar network and faculae
II. Implications for solar irradiance modelling
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Accepted: 13 March 2019
Aims. We aim to gain insight into the effect of network and faculae on solar irradiance from their apparent intensity.
Methods. Taking full-disc observations from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, we examined the intensity contrast of network and faculae in the continuum and core of the Fe I 6173 Å line and 1700 Å, including the variation with magnetic flux density, distance from disc centre, nearby magnetic fields, and time.
Results. The brightness of network and faculae is believed to be suppressed by nearby magnetic fields from its effect on convection. We note that the degree of magnetically crowding of an area also affects the magnetic flux tube sizes and the depth at which magnetic concentrations are embedded in intergranular lanes, such that intensity contrast can be enhanced in magnetically crowded areas at certain flux densities and distances from disc centre. The difference in intensity contrast between the quiet-Sun network and active region faculae, noted by various studies, arises because active regions are more magnetically crowded and is not due to any fundamental physical differences between network and faculae. These results highlight that solar irradiance models need to include the effect of nearby magnetic fields on network and faculae brightness. We found evidence that suggests that departures from local thermal equilibrium (LTE) might have limited effect on intensity contrast. This could explain why solar irradiance models that are based on the intensity contrast of solar surface magnetic features calculated assuming LTE reproduce the observed spectral variability even where the LTE assumption breaks down. Certain models of solar irradiance employ chromospheric indices as direct indications of the effect of network and faculae on solar irradiance. Based on past studies of the Ca II K line and on the intensity contrast measurements derived here, we show that the fluctuations in chromospheric emission from network and faculae are a reasonable estimate of the emission fluctuations in the middle photosphere, but not of those in the lower photosphere. This is due to the different physical mechanisms that underlie the magnetic intensity enhancement in the various atmospheric regimes, and represents a fundamental limitation of these solar irradiance models. Any time variation in the radiant properties of network and faculae is, of course, relevant to their effect on solar irradiance. The data set, which extends from 2010 to 2018, indicates that their intensity contrast was stable to about 3% in this period.
Conclusions. This study offers new insights into the radiant behaviour of network and faculae, with practical implications for solar irradiance modelling.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: faculae / plages / Sun: photosphere / Sun: magnetic fields
© K. L. Yeo and N. A. Krivova 2019
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Open Access funding provided by Max Planck Society.
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