On the nature of moving magnetic feature pairs around sunspots
Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, 37191, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com
2 National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100012, China e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com
Corresponding author: S. K. Solanki firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 3 December 2002
Employing data recorded by the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) instrument on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), we have identified 144 pairs of opposite magnetic polarity moving magnetic features (MMFs) in two active regions (NOAA ARs 8375 and 9236). The following results are obtained: (1) The majority of MMF pairs first appears at a distance of 1000 to 5000 km from the outer boundary of the sunspot, although MMF pairs appearing closer to the sunspot may be missed. (2) MMF bipoles are not randomly oriented. The member of an MMF pair further from the sunspot has the polarity of the parent sunspot in 85% of the cases. Furthermore, the orientations of MMF pairs are associated with the twist of the sunspot superpenumbra deduced from Hα images. (3) The mean lifetime of the studied MMFs is around 4 hours. (4) The separation between the two polarities of the MMFs falls in the range of 1100–1700 km. This separation remains almost unchanged, even decreases slightly as the MMF pairs move outwards. (5) MMFs are observed to cluster at particular azimuths around the parent sunspot, in particular in AR 8375. (6) MMF pairs move approximately radially outward from sunspots at an average speed of around 0.5 km s-1. Their motion is deflected towards large concentrations of magnetic flux of opposite polarity to that of the parent sunspot. A qualitative model based on these and other observations is presented. MMF pairs are proposed to be part of a U-loop emanating from the sunspot's magnetic canopy. Possible mechanisms leading to the formation of such a loop are discussed.
Key words: Sun: chromosphere / Sun: magnetic fields / sunspots
© ESO, 2003