Magnetic twist and writhe of active regions
On the origin of deformed flux tubes
Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio, CC. 67, suc. 28, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgFellow of CONICET.; email@example.comMember of the Carrera del Investigador Científico, CONICET.
2 Observatoire de Paris, LESIA, FRE 2461 (CNRS), 92195 Meudon, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak, Sunspot, NM 88349, USA e-mail: email@example.com
4 Centre for Plasma Astrophysics, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
5 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6NT, UK
6 Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Pf. 67, 1525, Hungary
M. C. López Fuentes
Accepted: 10 October 2002
We study the long term evolution of a set of 22 bipolar active regions (ARs) in which the main photospheric polarities are seen to rotate one around the other during several solar rotations. We first show that differential rotation is not at the origin of this large change in the tilt angle. A possible origin of this distortion is the nonlinear development of a kink-instability at the base of the convective zone; this would imply the formation of a non-planar flux tube which, while emerging across the photosphere, would show a rotation of its photospheric polarities as observed. A characteristic of the flux tubes deformed by this mechanism is that their magnetic twist and writhe should have the same sign. From the observed evolution of the tilt of the bipoles, we derive the sign of the writhe of the flux tube forming each AR; while we compute the sign of the twist from transverse field measurements. Comparing the handedness of the magnetic twist and writhe, we find that the presence of kink-unstable flux tubes is coherent with no more than 35% of the 20 cases for which the sign of the twist can be unambiguously determined. Since at most only a fraction of the tilt evolution can be explained by this process, we discuss the role that other mechanisms may play in the inferred deformation. We find that 36% of the 22 cases may result from the action of the Coriolis force as the flux tube travels through the convection zone. Furthermore, because several bipoles overpass in their rotation the mean toroidal (East-West) direction or rotate away from it, we propose that a possible explanation for the deformation of all these flux tubes may lie in the interaction with large-scale vortical motions of the plasma in the convection zone, including also photospheric or shallow sub-photospheric large scale flows.
Key words: magnetic fields / methods: data analysis / Sun: interior / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: photosphere
© ESO, 2003