Investigation of mass flows beneath a sunspot by time-distance helioseismology

Junwei Zhao, Alexander G. Kosovichev, Thomas L. Duvall

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209 Scopus citations


A time-distance helioseismic technique is employed to analyze a set of high-resolution Dopplergram observations of a large sunspot by SOHO/MDI on 1998 June 18. A regularized, damped least-squares inversion is applied to the measurements of travel times to infer mass flows around the sunspot below the solar surface. Powerful converging and downward directed flows are detected at depths of 1.5-5 Mm, which may provide observational evidence for the downdrafts and vortex flows that were suggested by Parker for a cluster model of sunspots. Strong outflows extending more than 30 Mm are found below the downward and converging flows. It is suggested that the sunspot might be a relatively shallow phenomenon, with a depth of 5-6 Mm, as defined by its thermal and hydrodynamic properties. A strong mass flow across the sunspot is found at depths of 9-12 Mm, which may provide more evidence in support of the cluster model, as opposed to the monolithic sunspot model. We suggest that a new magnetic emergence that was found 5 hr after our analysis period is related to this mass flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-388
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2001
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Methods: data analysis
  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sunspots


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