The Magnetic Response of the Solar Atmosphere to Umbral Flashes

Houston, S. J.; Jess, D. B.; Asensio Ramos, A.; Grant, S. D. T.; Beck, C.; Norton, A. A.; Krishna Prasad, S.
Bibliographical reference

The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 860, Issue 1, article id. 28, 13 pp. (2018).

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Chromospheric observations of sunspot umbrae offer an exceptional view of magnetoacoustic shock phenomena and the impact they have on the surrounding magnetically dominated plasma. We employ simultaneous slit-based spectro-polarimetry and spectral imaging observations of the chromospheric He I 10830 Å and Ca II 8542 Å lines to examine fluctuations in the umbral magnetic field caused by the steepening of magnetoacoustic waves into umbral flashes. Following the application of modern inversion routines, we find evidence to support the scenario that umbral shock events cause expansion of the embedded magnetic field lines due to the increased adiabatic pressure. The large number statistics employed allow us to calculate the adiabatic index, γ = 1.12 ± 0.01, for chromospheric umbral locations. Examination of the vector magnetic field fluctuations perpendicular to the solar normal revealed changes up to ∼200 G at the locations of umbral flashes. Such transversal magnetic field fluctuations have not been described before. Through comparisons with nonlinear force-free field extrapolations, we find that the perturbations of the transverse field components are oriented in the same direction as the quiescent field geometries. This implies that magnetic field enhancements produced by umbral flashes are directed along the motion path of the developing shock, hence producing relatively small changes, up to a maximum of ∼8°, in the inclination and/or azimuthal directions of the magnetic field. Importantly, this work highlights that umbral flashes are able to modify the full vector magnetic field, with the detection of the weaker transverse magnetic field components made possible by high-resolution data combined with modern inversion routines.
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