Volume 641, September 2020
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Section||The Sun and the Heliosphere|
|Published online||08 September 2020|
Helicity proxies from linear polarisation of solar active regions
Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 NORDITA, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Roslagstullsbacken 23, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
3 Department of Astronomy, AlbaNova University Center, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
4 JILA and Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
5 McWilliams Center for Cosmology & Department of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
6 Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, PO Box 15400, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Accepted: 16 June 2020
Context. The α effect is believed to play a key role in the generation of the solar magnetic field. A fundamental test for its significance in the solar dynamo is to look for magnetic helicity of opposite signs both between the two hemispheres as well as between small and large scales. However, measuring magnetic helicity is compromised by the inability to fully infer the magnetic field vector from observations of solar spectra, caused by what is known as the π ambiguity of spectropolarimetric observations.
Aims. We decompose linear polarisation into parity-even and parity-odd E and B polarisations, which are not affected by the π ambiguity. Furthermore, we study whether the correlations of spatial Fourier spectra of B and parity-even quantities such as E or temperature T are a robust proxy for magnetic helicity of solar magnetic fields.
Methods. We analysed polarisation measurements of active regions observed by the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager on board the Solar Dynamics observatory. Theory predicts the magnetic helicity of active regions to have, statistically, opposite signs in the two hemispheres. We then computed the parity-odd EB and TB correlations and tested for a systematic preference of their sign based on the hemisphere of the active regions.
Results. We find that: (i) EB and TB correlations are a reliable proxy for magnetic helicity, when computed from linear polarisation measurements away from spectral line cores; and (ii) E polarisation reverses its sign close to the line core. Our analysis reveals that Faraday rotation does not have a significant influence on the computed parity-odd correlations.
Conclusions. The EB decomposition of linear polarisation appears to be a good proxy for magnetic helicity independent of the π ambiguity. This allows us to routinely infer magnetic helicity directly from polarisation measurements.
Key words: Sun: magnetic fields / polarization / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / dynamo
© A. Prabhu et al. 2020
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://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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