4,403 research outputs found

    Small-scale structure and dynamics of the lower solar atmosphere

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    The chromosphere of the quiet Sun is a highly intermittent and dynamic phenomenon. Three-dimensional radiation (magneto-)hydrodynamic simulations exhibit a mesh-like pattern of hot shock fronts and cool expanding post-shock regions in the sub-canopy part of the inter-network. This domain might be called "fluctosphere". The pattern is produced by propagating shock waves, which are excited at the top of the convection zone and in the photospheric overshoot layer. New high-resolution observations reveal a ubiquitous small-scale pattern of bright structures and dark regions in-between. Although it qualitatively resembles the picture seen in models, more observations - e.g. with the future ALMA - are needed for thorough comparisons with present and future models. Quantitative comparisons demand for synthetic intensity maps and spectra for the three-dimensional (magneto-)hydrodynamic simulations. The necessary radiative transfer calculations, which have to take into account deviations from local thermodynamic equilibrium, are computationally very involved so that no reliable results have been produced so far. Until this task becomes feasible, we have to rely on careful qualitative comparisons of simulations and observations. Here we discuss what effects have to be considered for such a comparison. Nevertheless we are now on the verge of assembling a comprehensive picture of the solar chromosphere in inter-network regions as dynamic interplay of shock waves and structuring and guiding magnetic fields.Comment: 8 pages, 2 figures, to appear in the proceedings of the IAU Symposium No. 247, Waves & Oscillations in the Solar Atmosphere: Heating and Magneto-Seismology (Venezuela 2007

    Point spread functions for the Solar Optical Telescope onboard Hinode

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    The combined PSF of the BFI and the SOT onboard the Hinode spacecraft is investigated. Observations of the Mercury transit from November 2006 and the solar eclipse(s) from 2007 are used to determine the PSFs of SOT for the blue, green, and red continuum channels of the BFI. For each channel large grids of theoretical point spread functions are calculated by convolution of the ideal diffraction-limited PSF and Voigt profiles. These PSFs are applied to artificial images of an eclipse and a Mercury transit. The comparison of the resulting artificial intensity profiles across the terminator and the corresponding observed profiles yields a quality measure for each case. The optimum PSF for each observed image is indicated by the best fit. The observed images of the Mercury transit and the eclipses exhibit a clear proportional relation between the residual intensity and the overall light level in the telescope. In addition there is a anisotropic stray-light contribution. ... BFI/SOT operate close to the diffraction limit and have only a rather small stray-light contribution. The FWHM of the PSF is broadened by only ~1% with respect to the diffraction-limited case, while the overall Strehl ratio is ~ 0.8. In view of the large variations -- best seen in the residual intensities of eclipse images -- and the dependence on the overall light level and position in the FOV, a range of PSFs should be considered instead of a single PSF per wavelength. The individual PSFs of that range allow then the determination of error margins for the quantity under investigation. Nevertheless the stray-light contributions are here found to be best matched with Voigt functions with the parameters sigma = 0."008 and gamma = 0."004, 0."005, and 0."006 for the blue, green, and red continuum channels, respectively.Comment: 14 pages, 9 figures, accepted by A&

    Vortex Flows in the Solar Chromosphere -- I. Automatic detection method

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    Solar "magnetic tornadoes" are produced by rotating magnetic field structures that extend from the upper convection zone and the photosphere to the corona of the Sun. Recent studies show that such rotating features are an integral part of atmospheric dynamics and occur on a large range of spatial scales. A systematic statistical study of magnetic tornadoes is a necessary next step towards understanding their formation and their role for the mass and energy transport in the solar atmosphere. For this purpose, we have developed a new automatic detection method for chromospheric swirls, i.e. the observable signature of solar tornadoes or, more generally, chromospheric vortex flows and rotating motions. Unlike the previous studies that relied on visual inspections, our new method combines a line integral convolution (LIC) imaging technique and a scalar quantity which represents a vortex flow on a two-dimensional plane. We have tested two detection algorithms, based on the enhanced vorticity and vorticity strength quantities, by applying them to 3D numerical simulations of the solar atmosphere with CO5BOLD. We conclude that the vorticity strength method is superior compared to the enhanced vorticity method in all aspects. Applying the method to a numerical simulation of the solar atmosphere revealed very abundant small-scale, short-lived chromospheric vortex flows that had not been found by visual inspection before.Comment: 12 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in A&

    Vortices, shocks, and heating in the solar photosphere: effect of a magnetic field

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    Aims: We study the differences between non-magnetic and magnetic regions in the flow and thermal structure of the upper solar photosphere. Methods: Radiative MHD simulations representing a quiet region and a plage region, respectively, which extend into the layers around the temperature minimum, are analyzed. Results: The flow structure in the upper photospheric layers of the two simulations is considerably different: the non-magnetic simulation is dominated by a pattern of moving shock fronts while the magnetic simulation shows vertically extended vortices associated with magnetic flux concentrations. Both kinds of structures induce substantial local heating. The resulting average temperature profiles are characterized by a steep rise above the temperature minimum due to shock heating in the non-magnetic case and by a flat photospheric temperature gradient mainly caused by Ohmic dissipation in the magnetic run. Conclusions: Shocks in the quiet Sun and vortices in the strongly magnetized regions represent the dominant flow structures in the layers around the temperature minimum. They are closely connected with dissipation processes providing localized heating.Comment: Accepted for publicaton in A&

    Time-dependent hydrogen ionisation in the solar chromosphere. I: Methods and first results

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    An approximate method for solving the rate equations for the hydrogen populations was extended and implemented in the three-dimensional radiation (magneto-)hydrodynamics code CO5BOLD. The method is based on a model atom with six energy levels and fixed radiative rates. It has been tested extensively in one-dimensional simulations. The extended method has been used to create a three-dimensional model that extends from the upper convection zone to the chromosphere. The ionisation degree of hydrogen in our time-dependent simulation is comparable to the corresponding equilibrium value up to 500 km above optical depth unity. Above this height, the non-equilibrium ionisation degree is fairly constant over time and space, and tends to be at a value set by hot propagating shock waves. The hydrogen level populations and electron density are much more constant than the corresponding values for statistical equilibrium, too. In contrast, the equilibrium ionisation degree varies by more than 20 orders of magnitude between hot, shocked regions and cool, non-shocked regions. The simulation shows for the first time in 3D that the chromospheric hydrogen ionisation degree and electron density cannot be calculated in equilibrium. Our simulation can provide realistic values of those quantities for detailed radiative transfer computations.Comment: 8 pages, 7 figure