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Sunspot splitting triggering an eruptive flare View all abstracts by submitter

Rohan Eugene Louis   Submitted: 2013-11-22 03:29

We investigate how the splitting of the leading sunspot and associated flux emergence and cancellation in active region NOAA 11515 caused an eruptive M5.6 flare on 2012 July 2. Our study employs multi-wavelength observations from HMI, AIA and ChroTel. Emerging flux formed a neutral line ahead of the leading sunspot and new satellite spots. The sunspot splitting caused a long-lasting flow toward this neutral line, where a filament formed. Further flux emergence, partly of mixed-polarity, as well as episodes of flux cancellation occurred repeatedly at the neutral line. Following a nearby C-class precursor flare with signs of interaction with the filament, the filament erupted nearly simultaneously with the onset of the M5.6 flare and evolved into a coronal mass ejection. The sunspot stretched without forming a light bridge, splitting unusually fast (within about a day, complete approximately 6 hours after the eruption) in two nearly equal parts. The front part separated strongly from the active region to approach the neighbouring active region where all its coronal magnetic connections were rooted. It also rotated rapidly (by 4.9 degree/hr) and caused significant shear flows at its edge. The eruption resulted from a complex sequence of processes in the (sub-)photosphere and corona. The persistent flows toward the neutral line likely caused the formation of a flux rope which held the filament. These flows and their associated flux cancellation, the emerging flux, and the precursor flare all contributed to the destabilization of the flux rope. We interpret the sunspot splitting as the separation of two flux bundles differently rooted in the convection zone and only temporarily joined in the spot. This explains the rotation as continued rise of the separating flux and implies that at least this part of the sunspot was still connected to its roots deep in the convection zone.

Authors: Rohan E. Louis, Klaus G. Puschmann, Bernhard Kliem, Horst Balthasar, Carsten Denker
Projects: None

Publication Status: Accepted for publication in A&A
Last Modified: 2013-11-22 09:03
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