Activity-brightness Correlations for the Sun and Sun-like Stars

The Astrophysical Journal Letters (Impact Factor: 6.35). 09/2011; 739(2):L45. DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/739/2/L45

ABSTRACT We analyze the effect of solar features on the variability of the solar irradiance in three different spectral ranges. Our study is based on two solar-cycles' worth of full-disk photometric images from the San Fernando Observatory, obtained with red, blue, and Ca II K-line filters. For each image we measure the photometric sum, Σ, which is the relative contribution of solar features to the disk-integrated intensity of the image. The photometric sums in the red and blue continuum, Σr and Σb, exhibit similar temporal patterns: they are negatively correlated with solar activity, with strong short-term variability, and weak solar-cycle variability. However, the Ca II K-line photometric sum, ΣK, is positively correlated with solar activity and has strong variations on solar-cycle timescales. We show that we can model the variability of the Sun's bolometric flux as a linear combination of Σr and ΣK. We infer that, over solar-cycle timescales, the variability of the Sun's bolometric irradiance is directly correlated with spectral line variability, but inversely correlated with continuum variability. Our blue and red continuum filters are quite similar to the Strömgren b and y filters used to measure stellar photometric variability. We conclude that active stars whose visible continuum brightness varies inversely with activity, as measured by the Ca HK index, are displaying a pattern that is similar to that of the Sun, i.e., radiative variability in the visible continuum that is spot-dominated.

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    ABSTRACT: Global solar spectral irradiance variations depend on changes in magnetic flux concentrations at the smallest scales. Modeling has focused on the contributions of magnetic structures in full disk images as those contributions have strong center-to-limb dependencies, but these dependencies have never been determined radiometrically; only the photometric intensity relative to some reference ‘quiet-sun’,1 the magnetic structure contrast, is measurable with ground based imagery. This is problematic because unresolved inhomogeneities influence not only the full-disk structure intensities themselves, but also the quiet-sun background against which their contrast is measured. We thus argue that, to understand the physical causes underlying solar spectral irradiance variations, two fundamental questions must be addressed: What is the real Iλ (μ) as a function of B in full-disk images? This can only be answered by imaging the Sun radiometrically from space, and we propose a Radiometric Solar Imager design. What governs spectral irradiance changes at sub arc-second scales? This can be addressed by a combination of high resolution ground based imaging (ATST-VBI) and three dimensional radiative magnetohydrodynamic modeling, and we propose a synoptic approach. Finally, a way to account for the variance introduced by unresolved substructure in spectral irradiance modeling must be devised. This is critical, as imaging and modeling at the highest resolutions but over the full solar disk will likely remain unattainable for some time.
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    ABSTRACT: The Sun has long been considered a constant star, to the extent that its total irradiance was termed the solar constant. It required radiometers in space to detect the small variations in solar irradiance on timescales of the solar rotation and the solar cycle. A part of the difficulty is that there are no other constant natural daytime sources to which the Sun's brightness can be compared. The discovery of solar irradiance variability rekindled a long-running discussion on how strongly the Sun affects our climate. A non-negligible influence is suggested by correlation studies between solar variability and climate indicators. The mechanism for solar irradiance variations that fits the observations best is that magnetic features at the solar surface, i.e. sunspots, faculae and the magnetic network, are responsible for almost all variations (although on short timescales convection and p-mode oscillations also contribute). In spite of significant progress important questions are still open. Thus there is a debate on how strongly irradiance varies on timescales of centuries (i.e. how much darker the Sun was during the Maunder minimum than it is today). It is also not clear how the solar spectrum changes over the solar cycle. Both these questions are of fundamental importance for working out just how strongly the Sun influences our climate. Another interesting question is how solar irradiance variability compares with that of other cool dwarfs, particularly now that observations from space are available also for stars.
    Astronomische Nachrichten 10/2012; · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The variability of Solar Spectral Irradiance over the rotational period and its trend over the solar activity cycle are important for understanding the Sun-Earth connection as well as for observational constraints for solar models. Recently the SIM experiment on SORCE has published an unexpected negative correlation with Total Solar Irradiance of the visible spectral range. It is compensated by a strong and positive variability of the near UV range. Aims. We aim to verify whether the anti-correlated SIM/SORCE-trend in the visible can be confirmed by independent observations of the VIRGO experiment on SOHO. The challenge of all space experiments measuring solar irradiance are sensitivity changes of their sensors due to exposure to intense UV radiation, which are difficult to assess in orbit. Methods. We analyze a 10-year time series of VIRGO sun photometer data between 2002 and 2012. The variability of Spectral Solar Irradiance is correlated with the variability of the Total Solar Irradiance, which is taken as a proxy for solar activity. Results. Observational evidence indicates that after six years only one single long-term process governs the degradation of the backup sun photometer in VIRGO which is operated once in a month. This degradation can be well approximated by a linear function over ten years. The analysis of the residuals from the linear trend yield robust positive correlations of spectral irradiance at 862, 500 and 402 nm with total irradiance. In the analysis of annual averages of these data the positive correlations change into weak negative correlations, but of little statistical significance, for the 862 nm and 402 nm data. At 500 nm the annual spectral data are still positively correlated with Total Solar Irradiance. The persisting positive correlation at 500 nm is in contradiction to the SIM/SORCE results.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2013; 556:L3. · 5.08 Impact Factor


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