The term "ultraviolet (UV) burst" is introduced to describe small, intense, transient brightenings in ultraviolet images of solar active regions. We inventorize their properties and provide a definition based on image sequences in transition-region lines. Coronal signatures are rare, and most bursts are associated with small-scale, canceling opposite-polarity fields in the photosphere that occur in emerging flux regions, moving magnetic features in sunspot moats, and sunspot light bridges. We also compare UV bursts with similar transition-region phenomena found previously in solar ultraviolet spectrometry and with similar phenomena at optical wavelengths, in particular Ellerman bombs. Akin to the latter, UV bursts are probably small-scale magnetic reconnection events occurring in the low atmosphere, at photospheric and/or chromospheric heights. Their intense emission in lines with optically thin formation gives unique diagnostic opportunities for studying the physics of magnetic reconnection in the low solar atmosphere.
Sunspot observations with telescopes in 18th century were carried out in Japan as well. One of these sunspot observations is recorded in an account called Sansaizusetsu narabini Kansei irai Jissoku Zusetsu (Charts of Three Worlds and Diagrams of Actual Observations since Kansei Era). We analyze manuscripts of this account to show in total 15 sunspot drawings in 1749-1750. These observations were carried out by contemporary official astronomers in Japan, with telescopes covered by zongurasus (< zonglas in Dutch, corresponding to "sunglass" in English). We count their group number of sunspots to locate them in long-term solar activity and show that their observations were situated around the solar maximum in 1749 or 1750. We also computed their locations and areas, while we have to admit the difference of variant manuscripts with one another. These observational records show the spread of sunspot observations not only in Europe but also in Japan and hence may contribute to crosscheck or possibly improve the known sunspot indices.
Solar Active Region (AR) 12673 is the most flare productive AR in the solar cycle 24. It produced four X-class flares including the X9.3 flare on 06 September 2017 and the X8.2 limb event on 10 September. Sun and Norton (2017) reported that this region had an unusual high rate of flux emergence, while Huang et al. (2018) reported that the X9.3 flare had extremely strong white-light flare emissions. Yang at al. (2017) described the detailed morphological evolution of this AR. In this report, we focus on usual behaviors of the light bridge (LB) dividing the delta configuration of this AR, namely the strong magnetic fields (above 5500 G) in the LB and apparent photospheric twist as shown in observations with a 0.1 arcsec spatial resolution obtained by the 1.6m telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory.
Three Japanese sunspot drawings associated with Iwahashi Zenbei (1756-1811) are shown here from contemporary manuscripts and woodprint documents with the relevant texts. We revealed the observational date of one of the drawings to be 26 August 1793, and the overall observations lasted for over a year. Moreover, we identified the observational site for the dated drawing at Fushimi in Japan. We then compared his observations with group sunspot number and raw group count from Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations (SILSO) to reveal its data context, and concluded that these drawings filled the gaps in understanding due to the fragmental sunspots observations around 1793. These drawings are important as a clue to evaluate astronomical knowledge of contemporary Japan in the late 19 th century and are valuable as a non-European observation, considering that most sunspot observations up to mid-19 th century are from Europe.
GOES soft X-ray light curves are used to measure the timing and duration of solar flare emission. The timing and duration of the magnetic reconnection and subsequent energy release which drives solar flares are unknown, though the light curves are presumably related. It is therefore critical to understand the physics which connects the two: how does the time scale of reconnection produce an observed GOES light curve? In this work, we model the formation and expansion of an arcade of loops with a hydrodynamic model, which we then use to synthesize GOES light curves. We calculate the FWHM and the e-folding decay time of the light curves and compare them to the separation of the centroids of the two ribbons which the arcade spans, which is representative of the size scale of the loops. We reproduce a linear relation between the two, as found observationally in previous work. We show that this demonstrates a direct connection between the duration of energy release and the evolution of these light curves. We also show that the cooling processes of individual loops comprising the flare arcade directly affect the measured time scales. From the clear consistency between the observed and modeled linearity, we conclude that the primary factors that control the flare time scales are the duration of reconnection and the loop lengths.
Solar active regions (ARs) that produce strong flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are known to have a relatively high non-potentiality and are characterized by delta-sunspots and sheared magnetic structures. In this study, we conduct a series of flux emergence simulations from the convection zone to the corona and model four types of active regions that have been observationally suggested to cause strong flares, namely the Spot-Spot, Spot-Satellite, Quadrupole, and Inter-AR cases. As a result, we confirm that delta-spot formation is due to the complex geometry and interaction of emerging magnetic fields, with finding that the strong-field, high-gradient, highly-sheared polarity inversion line (PIL) is created by the combined effect of the advection, stretching, and compression of magnetic fields. We show that free magnetic energy builds up in the form of a current sheet above the PIL. It is also revealed that photospheric magnetic parameters that predict flare eruptions reflect the stored free energy with high accuracy, while CME-predicting parameters indicate the magnetic relationship between flaring zones and entire ARs.
We study the plasma flows in the solar photosphere during the emergence of two small active regions, NOAA 9021 and 10768. Using SOHO/MDI data, we find that the strong plasma upflows appear at the initial stage of active region formation, with maximum upflow velocities of -1650 and -1320 m/s. The structures with enhanced upflows have size about 8 Mm in diameter, and they exist for 1-2 hr. The parameters of the enhanced upflows are consistent with those of the large active region NOAA 10488, which may suggest the possibility that the elementary emerging magnetic loops that appear at the earliest phase of active region formation have similar properties, irrespective of scales of active regions. Comparison between the observations and a numerical simulation of magnetic flux emergence shows a striking consistency. We find that the driving force of the plasma upflow is at first the gas pressure gradient and later the magnetic pressure gradient.
Emerging flux regions (EFRs) are known to exhibit various sporadic local heating events in the lower atmosphere. To investigate the characteristics of these events, especially to link the photospheric magnetic fields and atmospheric dynamics, we analyze Hinode, IRIS, and SDO data of a new EFR in NOAA AR 12401. Out of 151 bright points (BPs) identified in Hinode/SOT Ca images, 29 are overlapped by an SOT/SP scan. Seven BPs in the EFR center possess mixed-polarity magnetic backgrounds in the photosphere. Their IRIS UV spectra (e.g., Si IV 1402.8 A) are strongly enhanced and red- or blue-shifted with tails reaching +/- 150 km/s, which is highly suggestive of bi-directional jets, and each brightening lasts for 10 - 15 minutes leaving flare-like light curves. Most of this group show bald patches, the U-shaped photospheric magnetic loops. Another 10 BPs are found in unipolar regions at the EFR edges. They are generally weaker in UV intensities and exhibit systematic redshifts with Doppler speeds up to 40 km/s, which could exceed the local sound speed in the transition region. Both types of BPs show signs of strong temperature increase in the low chromosphere. These observational results support the physical picture that heating events in the EFR center are due to magnetic reconnection within cancelling undular fields like Ellerman bombs, while the peripheral heating events are due to shocks or strong compressions caused by fast downflows along the overlying arch filament system.
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), especially the larger ones, emanate from active regions (ARs). With the aim to understand the magnetic properties that govern such flares and eruptions, we systematically survey all flare events with GOES levels of >=M5.0 within 45 deg from disk center between May 2010 and April 2016. These criteria lead to a total of 51 flares from 29 ARs, for which we analyze the observational data obtained by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. More than 80% of the 29 ARs are found to exhibit delta-sunspots and at least three ARs violate Hale's polarity rule. The flare durations are approximately proportional to the distance between the two flare ribbons, to the total magnetic flux inside the ribbons, and to the ribbon area. From our study, one of the parameters that clearly determine whether a given flare event is CME-eruptive or not is the ribbon area normalized by the sunspot area, which may indicate that the structural relationship between the flaring region and the entire AR controls CME productivity. AR characterization show that even X-class events do not require delta-sunspots or strong-field, high-gradient polarity inversion lines. An investigation of historical observational data suggests the possibility that the largest solar ARs, with magnetic flux of 2x10^23 Mx, might be able to produce "superflares" with energies of order of 10^34 erg. The proportionality between the flare durations and magnetic energies is consistent with stellar flare observations, suggesting a common physical background for solar and stellar flares.
Light bridges, the bright structures that divide the umbra of sunspots and pores into smaller pieces, are known to produce wide variety of activity events in solar active regions (ARs). It is also known that the light bridges appear in the assembling process of nascent sunspots. The ultimate goal of this series of papers is to reveal the nature of light bridges in developing ARs and the occurrence of activity events associated with the light bridge structures from both observational and numerical approaches. In this first paper, exploiting the observational data obtained by Hinode, IRIS, and Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), we investigate the detailed structure of the light bridge in NOAA AR 11974 and its dynamic activity phenomena. As a result, we find that the light bridge has a weak, horizontal magnetic field, which is transported from the interior by large-scale convective upflow and is surrounded by strong, vertical fields of adjacent pores. In the chromosphere above the bridge, a transient brightening occurs repeatedly and intermittently, followed by a recurrent dark surge ejection into higher altitudes. Our analysis indicates that the brightening is the plasma heating due to magnetic reconnection at lower altitudes, while the dark surge is the cool, dense plasma ejected from the reconnection region. From the observational results, we conclude that the dynamic activity observed in a light bridge structure such as chromospheric brightenings and dark surge ejections are driven by magnetoconvective evolution within the light bridge and its interaction with surrounding magnetic fields.
Light bridges, the bright structure dividing umbrae in sunspot regions, show various activity events. In Paper I, we reported on analysis of multi-wavelength observations of a light bridge in a developing active region (AR) and concluded that the activity events are caused by magnetic reconnection driven by magnetconvective evolution. The aim of this second paper is to investigate the detailed magnetic and velocity structures and the formation mechanism of light bridges. For this purpose, we analyze numerical simulation data from a radiative magnetohydrodynamics model of an emerging AR. We find that a weakly-magnetized plasma upflow in the near-surface layers of the convection zone is entrained between the emerging magnetic bundles that appear as pores at the solar surface. This convective upflow continuously transports horizontal fields to the surface layer and creates a light bridge structure. Due to the magnetic shear between the horizontal fields of the bridge and the vertical fields of the ambient pores, an elongated cusp-shaped current layer is formed above the bridge, which may be favorable for magnetic reconnection. The striking correspondence between the observational results of Paper I and the numerical results of this paper provides a consistent physical picture of light bridges. The dynamic activity phenomena occur as a natural result of the bridge formation and its convective nature, which has much in common with those of umbral dots and penumbral filaments.
Solar active regions (ARs) are thought to be formed by magnetic fields from the convection zone. Our flux emergence simulations revealed that a strong horizontal divergent flow (HDF) of unmagnetized plasma appears at the photosphere before the flux begins to emerge. In our earlier study, we analyzed HMI data for a single AR and confirmed presence of this precursor plasma flow in the actual Sun. In this paper, as an extension of our earlier study, we conducted a statistical analysis of the HDFs to further investigate their characteristics and better determine the properties. From SDO/HMI data, we picked up 23 flux emergence events over a period of 14 months, the total flux of which ranges from 10^20 to 10^22 Mx. Out of 23 selected events, 6 clear HDFs were detected by the method we developed in our earlier study, and 7 HDFs detected by visual inspection were added to this statistic analysis. We found that the duration of the HDF is on average 61 minutes and the maximum HDF speed is on average 3.1 km s^-1. We also estimated the rising speed of the subsurface magnetic flux to be 0.6-1.4 km s^-1. These values are highly consistent with our previous one-event analysis as well as our simulation results. The observation results lead us to the conclusion that the HDF is rather a common feature in the earliest phase of AR emergence. Moreover, our HDF analysis has capability of determining the subsurface properties of emerging fields that cannot be directly measured.
We present a comparison of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) analysis of NOAA Active Region (AR) 11158 and numerical simulations of flux-tube emergence, aiming to investigate the formation process of this flare-productive AR. First, we use SDO/Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) magnetograms to investigate the photospheric evolution and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) data to analyze the relevant coronal structures. Key features of this quadrupolar region are a long sheared polarity inversion line (PIL) in the central delta-sunspots and a coronal arcade above the PIL. We find that these features are responsible for the production of intense flares, including an X2.2-class event. Based on the observations, we then propose two possible models for the creation of AR 11158 and conduct flux-emergence simulations of the two cases to reproduce this AR. Case 1 is the emergence of a single flux tube, which is split into two in the convection zone and emerges at two locations, while Case 2 is the emergence of two isolated but neighboring tubes. We find that, in Case 1, a sheared PIL and a coronal arcade are created in the middle of the region, which agrees with the AR 11158 observation. However, Case 2 never builds a clear PIL, which deviates from the observation. Therefore, we conclude that the flare-productive AR 11158 is, between the two cases, more likely to be created from a single split emerging flux than from two independent flux bundles.
We report a detailed event analysis on the M6.6-class flare in the active region (AR) NOAA 11158 on 2011 February 13. AR 11158, which consisted of two major emerging bipoles, showed prominent activities including one X- and several M-class flares. In order to investigate the magnetic structures related to the M6.6 event, particularly the formation process of a flare-triggering magnetic region, we analyzed multiple spacecraft observations and numerical results of a flare simulation. We observed that, in the center of this quadrupolar AR, a highly sheared polarity inversion line (PIL) was formed through proper motions of the major magnetic elements, which built a sheared coronal arcade lying over the PIL. The observations lend support to the interpretation that the target flare was triggered by a localized magnetic region that had an intrusive structure, namely a positive polarity penetrating into a negative counterpart. The geometrical relationship between the sheared coronal arcade and the triggering region was consistent with the theoretical flare model based on the previous numerical study. We found that the formation of the trigger region was due to a continuous accumulation of the small-scale magnetic patches. A few hours before the flare occurrence, the series of emerged/advected patches reconnected with a preexisting fields. Finally, the abrupt flare eruption of the M6.6 event started around 17:30 UT. Our analysis suggests that, in a triggering process of a flare activity, all magnetic systems of multiple scales, not only the entire AR evolution but also the fine magnetic elements, are altogether involved.
In this Letter we present a seismological detection of a rising motion of magnetic flux in the shallow convection zone of the Sun, and show estimates of the emerging speed and its decelerating nature. In order to evaluate the speed of subsurface flux that creates an active region, we apply six Fourier filters to the Doppler data of NOAA AR 10488, observed with SOHO/MDI, to detect the reduction of acoustic power at six different depths from -15 to -2 Mm. All the filtered acoustic powers show reductions, up to 2 hours before the magnetic flux first appears at the visible surface. The start times of these reductions show a rising trend with a gradual deceleration. The obtained velocity is first several km s^-1 in a depth range of 15--10 Mm, then ~1.5 km s^-1 at 10-5 Mm, finally ~0.5 km s^-1 at 5-2 Mm. If we assume that the power reduction is actually caused by the magnetic field, the velocity of order of 1 km s^-1 is well in accordance with previous observations and numerical studies. Moreover, the gradual deceleration strongly supports the theoretical model that the emerging flux slows down in the uppermost convection zone before it expands into the atmosphere to build an active region.
Solar active regions are formed through the emergence of magnetic flux from the deeper convection zone. Recent satellite observations have shown that a horizontal divergent flow (HDF) stretches out over the solar surface just before the magnetic flux appearance. The aims of this study are to investigate the driver of the HDF and to see the dependency of the HDF on the parameters of the magnetic flux in the convection zone. We conduct three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (3D MHD) numerical simulations of the magnetic flux emergence and vary the parameters in the initial conditions. An analytical approach is also taken to explain the dependency. The horizontal gas pressure gradient is found to be the main driver of the HDF. The maximum HDF speed shows positive correlations with the field strength and twist intensity. The HDF duration has a weak relation with the twist, while it shows negative dependency on the field strength only in the case of the stronger field regime. Parametric dependencies analyzed in this study may allow us to probe the structure of the subsurface magnetic flux by observing properties of the HDF.
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the most catastrophic eruptions in our solar system, have been known to affect terrestrial environments and infrastructure. However, because their triggering mechanism is still not sufficiently understood, our capacity to predict the occurrence of solar eruptions and to forecast space weather is substantially hindered. Even though various models have been proposed to determine the onset of solar eruptions, the types of magnetic structures capable of triggering these eruptions are still unclear. In this study, we solved this problem by systematically surveying the nonlinear dynamics caused by a wide variety of magnetic structures in terms of three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations. As a result, we determined that two different types of small magnetic structures favor the onset of solar eruptions. These structures, which should appear near the magnetic polarity inversion line (PIL), include magnetic fluxes reversed to the potential component or the nonpotential component of major field on the PIL. In addition, we analyzed two large flares, the X-class flare on December 13, 2006 and the M-class flare on February 13, 2011, using imaging data provided by the Hinode satellite, and we demonstrated that they conform to the simulation predictions. These results suggest that forecasting of solar eruptions is possible with sophisticated observation of a solar magnetic field, although the lead time must be limited by the time scale of changes in the small magnetic structures.
It is widely accepted that solar active regions including sunspots are formed by the emerging magnetic flux from the deep convection zone. In previous numerical simulations, we found that the horizontal divergent flow (HDF) occurs before the flux emergence at the photospheric height. This Paper reports the HDF detection prior to the flux emergence of NOAA AR 11081, which is located away from the disk center. We use SDO/HMI data to study the temporal changes of the Doppler and magnetic patterns from those of the reference quiet Sun. As a result, the HDF appearance is found to come before the flux emergence by about 100 minutes. Also, the horizontal speed of the HDF during this time gap is estimated to be 0.6 to 1.5 km s^-1, up to 2.3 km s^-1. The HDF is caused by the plasma escaping horizontally from the rising magnetic flux. And the interval between the HDF and the flux emergence may reflect the latency during which the magnetic flux beneath the solar surface is waiting for the instability onset to the further emergence. Moreover, SMART Halpha images show that the chromospheric plages appear about 14 min later, located co-spatial with the photospheric pores. This indicates that the plages are caused by plasma flowing down along the magnetic fields that connect the pores at their footpoints. One importance of observing the HDF may be the possibility to predict the sunspot appearances that occur in several hours.
We have performed a three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulation to study the emergence of a twisted magnetic flux tube from -20,000 km of the solar convection zone to the corona through the photosphere and the chromosphere. The middle part of the initial tube is endowed with a density deficit to instigate a buoyant emergence. As the tube approaches the surface, it extends horizontally and makes a flat magnetic structure due to the photosphere ahead of the tube. Further emergence to the corona breaks out via the interchange-mode instability of the photospheric fields, and eventually several magnetic domes build up above the surface. What is new in this three-dimensional experiment is, multiple separation events of the vertical magnetic elements are observed in the photospheric magnetogram, and they reflect the interchange instability. Separated elements are found to gather at the edges of the active region. These gathered elements then show shearing motions. These characteristics are highly reminiscent of active region observations. On the basis of the simulation results above, we propose a theoretical picture of the flux emergence and the formation of an active region that explains the observational features, such as multiple separations of faculae and the shearing motion.
We present the new results of the two-dimensional numerical experiments on the cross-sectional evolution of a twisted magnetic flux tube rising from the deeper solar convection zone (-20,000 km) to the corona through the surface. The initial depth is ten times deeper than most of previous calculations focusing on the flux emergence from the uppermost convection zone. We find that the evolution is illustrated by the two-step process described below: the initial tube rises due to its buoyancy, subject to aerodynamic drag due to the external flow. Because of the azimuthal component of the magnetic field, the tube maintains its coherency and does not deform to become a vortex roll pair. When the flux tube approaches the photosphere and expands sufficiently, the plasma on the rising tube accumulates to suppress the tube's emergence. Therefore, the flux decelerates and extends horizontally beneath the surface. This new finding owes to our large scale simulation calculating simultaneously the dynamics within the interior as well as above the surface. As the magnetic pressure gradient increases around the surface, magnetic buoyancy instability is triggered locally and, as a result, the flux rises further into the solar corona. We also find that the deceleration occurs at a higher altitude than in our previous experiment using magnetic flux sheets (Toriumi and Yokoyama). By conducting parametric studies, we investigate the conditions for the two-step emergence of the rising flux tube: field strength > 1.5x10^4 G and the twist > 5.0x10^-4 km^-1 at -20,000 km depth.
We present a series of numerical experiments that model the evolution of magnetic flux tubes with a different amount of initial twist. As a result of calculations, tightly twisted tubes reveal a rapid two-step emergence to the atmosphere with a slight slowdown at the surface, while weakly twisted tubes show a slow two-step emergence waiting longer the secondary instability to be triggered. This picture of the two-step emergence is highly consistent with recent observations. These tubes show multiple magnetic domes above the surface, indicating that the secondary emergence is caused by interchange mode of magnetic buoyancy instability. As for the weakest twist case, the tube exhibits an elongated photospheric structure and never rises into the corona. The formation of the photospheric structure is due to inward magnetic tension force of the azimuthal field component of the rising flux tube (i.e., tube's twist). When the twist is weak, azimuthal field cannot hold the tube's coherency, and the tube extends laterally at the subadiabatic surface. In addition, we newly find that the total magnetic energy measured above the surface depends on the initial twist. Strong twist tubes follow the initial relation between the twist and the magnetic energy, while weak twist tubes deviates from this relation, because these tubes store their magnetic energy in the photospheric structures.
We perform two-dimensional MHD simulations on the solar flux emergence. We set the initial magnetic flux sheet at z=-20,000 km in the convection zone. The flux sheet rises through the convective layer due to the Parker instability, however, decelerates beneath the photosphere because the plasma on the flux sheet piles up owing to the convectively stable photosphere above. Meanwhile, the flux sheet becomes locally unstable to the Parker instability within the photosphere, and the further evolution to the corona occurs (two-step emergence model). We carry out a parameter survey to investigate the condition for this two-step model. We find that magnetic fluxes which form active regions are likely to have undergone the two-step emergence. The condition for the two-step emergence is 10^21 - 10^22 Mx with 10^4 G at z=-20,000 km in the convection zone.