A) Two sunspots simulated in 3D by model data, viewed from above and in cross section below the surface

Date:9 February 2010 Tags:

For the first time, NCAR scientists and colleagues have modelled the complex structure of sunspots in a comprehensive 3D computer simulation, giving scientists their first glimpse below the visible surface, or photosphere, of the Sun to understand sunspots' underlying physical processes. Recent advances in supercomputing made this groundbreaking numerical simulation possible. The work drew on increasingly detailed observations from a network of ground- and space-based instruments to verify that the model captured sunspots realistically.

In black and white: Vertical magnetic fields are revealed in this paired sunspot simulation, which shows negative polarity at left (black) and positive polarity at right (white).

In colour: A simultaneous cross section view beneath the surface. Lighter/brighter colours indicate stronger magnetic field strength.

* t (elapsed time) is shown in tenths of an hour
* 10 Mm: length of bar = 10 000 km

Technical data: Vertical magnetic field component in the photosphere. Value range: between -3,5 kG (black) and 3,5 kG (white). Subsurface: magnetic field strength (colour saturated at 8 kG), vertical scale enlarged by a factor of 2.

©UCAR, animation courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR

Related material:
* Close-up in 3D: Transition from inner umbra region to outer penumbra region in one sunspot… to watch this animation, |click here|

* Image of the Week… |click here|

* Scientists create first comprehensive computer model of sunspots… |more|


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