Report

Detection of Emerging Sunspot Regions in the Solar Interior

Science  19 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6045, pp. 993-996
DOI: 10.1126/science.1206253

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Abstract

Sunspots are regions where strong magnetic fields emerge from the solar interior and where major eruptive events occur. These energetic events can cause power outages, interrupt telecommunication and navigation services, and pose hazards to astronauts. We detected subsurface signatures of emerging sunspot regions before they appeared on the solar disc. Strong acoustic travel-time anomalies of an order of 12 to 16 seconds were detected as deep as 65,000 kilometers. These anomalies were associated with magnetic structures that emerged with an average speed of 0.3 to 0.6 kilometer per second and caused high peaks in the photospheric magnetic flux rate 1 to 2 days after the detection of the anomalies. Thus, synoptic imaging of subsurface magnetic activity may allow anticipation of large sunspot regions before they become visible, improving space weather forecast.

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