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Interactions between nested sunspots. 1: The formation and breakup of a delta-type sunspotWe investigate a nest of sunspots in which three ordinary bipolar pairs of sunspots are aligned collinearly. The usual spreading action of the growing regions brings two spots of leading polarity together (p-p collision) and forces the leading and trailing spots of the two interior regions to overlap inot a single penumbra (p-f collision), thus forming a delta-spot. We examine digitally processed images from the Ottawa River Solar Observatory of two related events inside the delta-spot 5 days after the p-f collision begins: the violent disruption of the f-umbra, and the formation in less than a day of an hydrogen-alpha filament. The evolutionary changes in shape, area, relative motions, and brightness that we measure for each spot in the elongated nest are more compatible with Parker's (1979a) hypothesis of a sunspot as a cluster of flux tubes held together by downdrafts than with the notion of a sunspot as a monolithic plug of magnetic flux. From chromospheric developments over the delta-spot, we show that a shearing motion along a polarity inversion is more effective than convergence for creating a chromospheric filament. We invoke the release of an instability, triggered by a sequence of processes lasting 1 day or more, to explain the disruption of the f-umbra in this delta-spot. We show that the sequence is initiated when the colliding p-f umbrae reach a critical separation around 3200 +/- 200 km. We present a descriptive model in which the reconnected magnetic fields block vertical transport of convective heat flux just beneath the photosphere. We observe the formation of an unusual type of penumbra adjacent to the f-polarity portion of this delta-spot just before its disruption. A tangential penumbral band grows out of disordered matter connected to the f-umbra. We present this as evidence for the extrusion of umbral magnetic flux by thermal plumes rising through a loosely bound umbra.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Gaizauskas, V. (National Research Council of Canada Ottawa, Canada)
Harvey, K. L. (Solar Physics Research Corporation Tucson, AZ, United States)
Proulx, M. (National Research Council of Canada Ottawa, Canada)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
February 20, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Astrophysical Journal, Part 1
Volume: 422
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0004-637X
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits