Special Reports

Twisting Motions of Sunspot Penumbral Filaments

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Science  07 Dec 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5856, pp. 1597-1599
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146337

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The penumbra of a sunspot is composed of numerous thin, radially extended, bright and dark filaments carrying outward gas flows (the Evershed flow). Using high-resolution images obtained by the Solar Optical Telescope aboard the solar physics satellite Hinode, we discovered a number of penumbral bright filaments revealing twisting motions about their axes. These twisting motions are observed only in penumbrae located in the direction perpendicular to the symmetry line connecting the sunspot center and the solar disk center, and the direction of the twist (that is, lateral motions of intensity fluctuation across filaments) is always from limb side to disk-center side. Thus, the twisting feature is not an actual twist or turn of filaments but a manifestation of dynamics of penumbral filaments with three-dimensional radiative transfer effects.

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