Formation Process of a Light Bridge Revealed with the Hinode Solar Optical Telescope

Publications- Astronomical Society of Japan (Impact Factor: 2.44). 10/2007;
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT The Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) aboard HINODE successfully and continuously observed a formation process of a light bridge in a matured sunspot of the NOAA active region 10923 for several days with high spatial resolution. During its formation, many umbral dots were observed emerging from the leading edges of penumbral filaments, and intruding into the umbra rapidly. The precursor of the light bridge formation was also identified as the relatively slow inward motion of the umbral dots which emerged not near the penumbra, but inside the umbra. The spectro-polarimeter on SOT provided physical conditions in the photosphere around the umbral dots and the light bridges. We found the light bridges and the umbral dots had significantly weaker magnetic fields associated with upflows relative to the core of the umbra, which implies that there was hot gas with weak field strength penetrating from subphotosphere to near the visible surface inside those structures. There needs to be a mechanism to drive the inward motion of the hot gas along the light bridges. We suggest that the emergence and the inward motion are triggered by a buoyant penumbral flux tube as well as the subphotospheric flow crossing the sunspot.

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    ABSTRACT: We employ high resolution filtergrams and polarimetric measurements from Hinode to follow the evolution of a sunspot for eight days starting on June 28, 2007. The imaging data were corrected for intensity gradients, projection effects, and instrumental stray light prior to the analysis. The observations show the formation of a light bridge at one corner of the sunspot by a slow intrusion of neighbouring penumbral filaments. This divided the umbra into two individual umbral cores. During the light bridge formation, there was a steep increase in its intensity from 0.28 to 0.7 I_QS in nearly 4 hr, followed by a gradual increase to quiet Sun (QS) values in 13 hr. This increase in intensity was accompanied by a large reduction in the field strength from 1800 G to 300 G. The smaller umbral core gradually broke away from the parent sunspot nearly 2 days after the formation of the light bridge rendering the parent spot without a penumbra at the location of fragmentation. The penumbra in the fragment disappeared first within 34 hr, followed by the fragment whose area decayed exponentially with a time constant of 22 hr. The depleted penumbra in the parent sunspot regenerated when the inclination of the magnetic field at the penumbra-QS boundary became within 40 deg. from being completely horizontal and this occurred near the end of the fragment's lifetime. After the disappearance of the fragment, another light bridge formed in the parent which had similar properties as the fragmenting one, but did not divide the sunspot. The significant weakening in field strength in the light bridge along with the presence of granulation is suggestive of strong convection in the sunspot which might have triggered the expulsion and fragmentation of the smaller spot. Although the presence of QS photospheric conditions in sunspot umbrae could be a necessary condition for fragmentation, it is not a sufficient one.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2012; 755(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent high resolution spectropolarimetric observations from Hinode detected the presence of supersonic downflows in a sunspot light bridge (Louis et al. 2009). These downflows occurred in localized patches, close to regions where the field azimuth changed by a large value. This apparent discontinuity in the field azimuth was seen along a thin ridge running along the western edge of the light bridge. Some, but not all, of these downflowing patches were co-spatial with chromospheric brightness enhancements seen in Ca II H filtergrams. The presence of magnetic inhomogeneities at scales of 0.3 arcsec could facilitate the reconnection of field lines in the lower chromosphere whose signatures might be the supersonic downflows and the brightness enhancements that have been observed.
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    ABSTRACT: We studied temporal evolution of flow patterns inside an umbra using the local correlation tracking algorithm applied to long-term filtergram data of a matured sunspot taken with the Hinode Solar Optical Telescope. We found not only inward migration of umbral dots in a peripheral region of the umbra but also a circulating motion in a central region of the umbra. The circulating motion was persistently observed for at least 3 days. The observation suggests that there are magnetic and flow structures below a sunspot maintaining the motion of umbral dots.

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