Journal Article ALMA Discovery of Solar Umbral Brightness Enhancement at λ=3mm

Iwai, Kazumasa  ,  Loukitcheva, Maria  ,  Shimojo, Masumi  ,  Solanki, Sami K.  ,  White, Stephen M.

841 ( 2 )  , pp.L20 - L20 , 2017-06-01 , IOP publishing
We report the discovery of a brightness enhancement in the center of a large sunspot umbra at a wavelength of 3 mm using the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA). Sunspots are among the most prominent features on the solar surface, but many of their aspects are surprisingly poorly understood. We analyzed a λ = 3 mm (100 GHz) mosaic image obtained by ALMA that includes a large sunspot within the active region AR12470, on 2015 December 16. The 3 mm map has a 300'' × 300'' field of view and 4farcs9 × 2farcs2 spatial resolution, which is the highest spatial resolution map of an entire sunspot in this frequency range. We find a gradient of 3 mm brightness from a high value in the outer penumbra to a low value in the inner penumbra/outer umbra. Within the inner umbra, there is a marked increase in 3 mm brightness temperature, which we call an umbral brightness enhancement. This enhanced emission corresponds to a temperature excess of 800 K relative to the surrounding inner penumbral region and coincides with excess brightness in the 1330 and 1400 Å slit-jaw images of the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), adjacent to a partial lightbridge. This λ = 3 mm brightness enhancement may be an intrinsic feature of the sunspot umbra at chromospheric heights, such as a manifestation of umbral flashes, or it could be related to a coronal plume, since the brightness enhancement was coincident with the footpoint of a coronal loop observed at 171 Å.

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