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On the Force-Freeness of the Photospheric Sunspot Magnetic Fields as Observed from Hinode (SOT/SP)  

Sanjiv Kumar Tiwari   Submitted: 2011-09-22 07:18

A magnetic field is force-free if there is no interaction between it and the plasma in the surrounding atmosphere, i.e., electric currents are aligned with the magnetic field, giving rise to zero Lorentz force. The computation of various magnetic parameters, such as magnetic energy (using the virial theorem), gradient of twist of sunspot magnetic fields (computed from the force-free parameter α , and any kind of extrapolation, heavily hinges on the force-free approximation of the photospheric sunspot magnetic fields. Thus, it is of vital importance to inspect the force-free behavior of sunspot magnetic fields. The force-free nature of sunspot magnetic fields has been examined earlier by some researchers, ending with incoherent results. Accurate photospheric vector field measurements with high spatial resolution are required to inspect the force-free nature of sunspots. For this purpose, we use several vector magnetograms of high spatial resolution obtained from the Solar Optical Telescope/Spectro-Polarimeter on board Hinode. Both the necessary and sufficient conditions for force-free nature are examined by checking the global and local nature of equilibrium magnetic forces over sunspots. We find that sunspot magnetic fields are not very far from the force-free configuration, although they are not completely force-free on the photosphere. The umbral and inner penumbral fields are more force-free than the middle and outer penumbral fields. During their evolution, sunspot magnetic fields are found to maintain their proximity to force-free field behavior. Although a dependence of net Lorentz force components is seen on the evolutionary stages of the sunspots, we do not find a systematic relationship between the nature of sunspot magnetic fields and the associated flare activity. Further, we examine whether the fields at the photosphere follow linear or nonlinear force-free conditions. After examining this in various complex and simple sunspots, we conclude that, in either case, photospheric sunspot magnetic fields are closer to satisfying the nonlinear force-free field approximation.

Authors: Sanjiv Kumar Tiwari
Projects: Hinode/SOT

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal
Last Modified: 2011-09-22 13:03
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Magnetic Non-Potentiality of Solar Active Regions and Peak X-Ray Flux of the Associated Flares  

Sanjiv Kumar Tiwari   Submitted: 2010-07-29 08:04

Predicting the severity of the solar eruptive phenomena like flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) remains a great challenge despite concerted efforts for several decades. The advent of high quality vector magnetograms obtained from Hinode (SOT/SP) has increased the possibility of meeting this challenge. In particular, the Spatially Averaged Signed Shear Angle (SASSA) seems to be an unique parameter to quantify the non-potentiality of the active regions. We demonstrate the usefulness of SASSA for predicting the flare severity. For this purpose we present case studies of the evolution of magnetic non-potentiality using 115 vector magnetograms of four active regions namely ARs NOAA 10930, 10960, 10961 and 10963 during December 08-15, 2006, June 03-10, 2007, June 28-July 5, 2007 and July 10-17, 2007 respectively. The NOAA ARs 10930 and 10960 were very active and produced X and M class flares respectively, along with many smaller X-ray flares. On the other hand, the NOAA ARs 10961 and 10963 were relatively less active and produced only very small (mostly A and B-class) flares. For this study we have used a large number of high resolution vector magnetograms obtained from Hinode (SOT/SP). The analysis shows that the peak X-ray flux of the most intense solar flare emanating from the active regions depends on the magnitude of the SASSA at the time of the flare. This finding of the existence of a lower limit of SASSA for a given class of X-ray flare will be very useful for space weather forecasting. We have also studied another non-potentiality parameter called mean weighted shear angle (MWSA) of the vector magnetograms along with SASSA. We find that the MWSA does not show such distinction as the SASSA for upper limits of GOES X-Ray flux of solar flares, however both the quantities show similar trends during the evolution of all active regions studied.

Authors: Sanjiv Kumar Tiwari, P. Venkatakrishnan, and Sanjay Gosain
Projects: Hinode/SOT

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal
Last Modified: 2010-08-01 03:22
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On the Force-Freeness of the Photospheric Sunspot Magnetic Fields as Observed from Hinode (SOT/SP)
Magnetic Non-Potentiality of Solar Active Regions and Peak X-Ray Flux of the Associated Flares

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